Overcoming the Manufacturing Skills Gap

Time to Read: 4.9 minutes

Updated: December 21, 2022

Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute’s 2021 study into the state of the manufacturing industry estimated that nearly 2.1 million manufacturing roles in the US could be unfilled by 2030. The industry has largely recovered from the large amount of job losses caused by the pandemic and is now impacted by a growing manufacturing skills gap caused by a shortage of skilled workers.

This leaves manufacturing organizations in a position to re-evaluate their hiring processes, their sourcing strategies and even the technology they use to approach, attract, and monitor potential candidates to find solutions to the skills gap in their sector.

A Look at the Manufacturing Skills Gap

The same study found that 77% of manufacturers believe they will continue to experience problems attracting and retaining workers into 2023 and beyond. But why is this? The manufacturing skills shortage is being caused by several factors, including:

  • The use of new technologies
  • Experienced workers retiring or leaving the industry
  • False perceptions of the industry among younger workers
  • The need to hire high-volume workers, often tied with business cycles

6 In-Demand Skills in Manufacturing

Digital skills are among the areas where organizations are feeling the manufacturing skills gap the most and, surprisingly, soft skills such as leadership and project management are in short supply as experienced professionals retire before younger workers have a chance to acquire the same level of experience.
The list below outlines some of the most difficult – but increasingly important – skills to find, attract and retain manufacturing talent, and organizations will need to get creative to find solutions to source them:

1. Basic Digital Skills

Digital literacy is going to be the number one skill all employers, not just those in manufacturing, will need if they want their workforce to be adaptable, effective, and efficient. Basic digital skills might be taken for granted when dealing with younger workers but as the manufacturing industry evolves and new technologies become increasingly prevalent, organizations should consider the digital skills of all their workers a high priority.

2. Data Analysis

Manufacturers continue to generate large amounts of operational and consumer data. Experienced data scientists with the ability to organize, analyze and understand large data sets and conduct statistical analysis will be in high demand.

3. Problem Solving and Troubleshooting

Manufacturing can be fast-paced and being able to think critically, troubleshoot effectively and solve problems quickly are valuable skillsets. Embedding problem-solving skills into your teams can prevent manufacturing delays, avoid unnecessary repairs, and save valuable time and money.

4. Programming

Programmers and software developers will be crucial as manufacturers transition to more automated, digital ways of working, particularly those with experience coding for manufacturing-specific machinery and devices.

5. AI and Automation

The implementation of AI and automation technologies are transforming manufacturing. While the demand for physical and manual skills in the US is estimated to decline by 11% by 2030, the need for complex tech skills such as AI and automation is expected to grow by 90% in the same period.

6. Leadership

Employees with leadership skills are going to be valuable hires for manufacturing organizations as we enter the next era of advanced manufacturing and industry 4.0. Interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and the ability to build, lead and inspire teams are valuable skills in a time of supply chain disruptions and changing technology.

Strategies for Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap

One efficient way to address the manufacturing skills gap and get those important skills in your business is Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). RPO partners can provide you with support and advice, while reviewing your entire recruiting process. They can also offer high-volume and specialist hiring strategies that can help close the manufacturing skills gap, including:

1. Conducting a Skills Gap Analysis

A skills gap analysis is a simple comparison of the skills that your workforce currently has and the skills that your business needs both now and in the future. Once you know where/if there are skills gaps in your current workforce you can then look to your recruitment processes to address them.

2. Reskilling and Upskilling Your Current Workforce

Demand for digital skills is rising across the board. An effective way to address the digital skills gap in manufacturing is to offer training and development programs to upskill the current workforce. What skills do you know your business will need in five or even 10 years? Don’t wait to hire valuable skills, now is the time to implement training in those skills.

3. Focusing on Inclusive Recruitment Practices

Diverse workforces are more innovative and effective than their less diverse counterparts and an increase in diversity and inclusion practices have been shown to positively impact employee retention. By developing your organization’s EDI policies you can access new pools of talent, a wider range of skills and abilities and hold onto those skills for longer.

4. Building an Effective Employer Brand

A well-developed employer brand supported by engaging content on social media, company websites and a presence in the manufacturing industry within colleges and industry events, can go a long way to presenting your organization as somewhere talented manufacturing workers will want to work. This is especially important for the manufacturing industry which is often perceived as an industry with limited growth opportunities, long hours, and unpleasant work environments.

Consider how you market yourself as an employer, convey your values and define your Employee Value Proposition to better attract and retain high-quality individuals.

5. Developing Strategies for Better Employee Retention

Reducing high employee turnover is very important as manufacturing employers struggle with a workforce that is reaching retirement age and an increasing number of unfilled job openings. Improving onboarding and supporting employees throughout their lifecycle within your business can significantly improve retention.

Access global teams using powerful technologies, cohesive employer branding programs and diversity recruitment strategies that can help you attract and retain the skills you need to close the manufacturing skills gap with Pierpoint as your RPO partner. Talk to an expert today to discuss your hiring needs.

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Jen Mulholland

Jen is a successful recruitment and marketing professional. Driven by a genuine passion for writing, she provides insightful, accurate and engaging content for the Human Resources community across a wide range of topics and industries.

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