The Current and Future Skills Gap in Manufacturing

· by Alicia Leary

Alicia is the Marketing Team Lead at HTI. She started her career with HTI in 2015 as a Sales Coordinator.
Spread the love

Manufacturers are finding it difficult to find the talent they want for positions they need.  The skills gap in the manufacturing world increasingly widens each year and is only forecasted to grow within the next decade. In 2011 alone, 600,000 jobs were left unfilled due to lack of skilled workers. The third Skills Gap Study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute reveals that 6 out of 10 open skilled production positions go unfilled due to shortage in the talent pool, and positions that are filled can take between 60-90 days to find. So what does this look like over the next decade? The study reveals:

  • 4 million manufacturing jobs are likely to emerge to meet future domestic and international demand over the next decade. However, only 1.4 million of these jobs are likely to be filled.
  • This workforce deficiency will significantly affect other business sectors such as local goods and services. For every manufacturing position created, 2.5 new jobs are created in local goods and services.

So what is causing this and how do we start mending this gap?

Some of the top causes of this epidemic are: the retirement of the baby boomers, lack of preparation received by the future workforce, and the attractiveness (or lack thereof) of the industry. The areas of skilled production (machinists, machine operators, and technicians) will take the hardest hit. Due to strains in skills of math and science at the high school level, manufacturers are also expecting a tight market for highly specialized and innovated employees.

It is critical to start reaching a workforce in secondary and post-secondary education programs. Presently, STEM is hurting and it is essential for manufacturers to aid in the interest in these fields. There is a need for companies to start working together to develop a system that attracts, trains, develops, and retains new talent. Manufacturers have already noted that working with external programs has improved the gap in their areas; and need to share the successes with others. Business owners should also start attracting the young workforce by stressing the “cool” or innovative products their organizations make, such as 3D printing or robotics. Additionally, businesses should promote flexibility in schedules and working hours for a stronger appeal with mothers or single parents.

Whether manufacturers are working with the government for education reform, engaging local schools and communities, or working with an external recruiting firm, all of these solutions can work simultaneously to begin creating a foundation that mends the skills gap before the “fix” becomes irreversible.

For more details and findings from this report: