- For the first time in modern history there are more job openings than there are eligible workers to fill them
- Skilled labor shortages are critical
- Education and Automation are the best solutions for manufacturers and industry
- Higher wages and image must be addressed
Manufacturers worldwide are having a difficult time finding and retaining skilled workers. According to the latest Gallup Manpower “Talent Shortage Survey” 44% of employers across the globe report they cannot find the skills they need.
In the United States, the BLS reported that in April 2018 there were 6.7 million job openings and in May 2018 there were just over 6 million people the BLS classified as unemployed. The shortage is reaching a critical point. If the trend continues, job openings will eclipse the labor pool for the first time. This trend will only get worse as the “baby boomers” continue to retire at a pace faster than subsequent generations can fill them. Based on a study by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, Forbes reported in 2017 that 22% of skilled manufacturing workers, or 2.7 million employees, are retiring over the next decade.
Education and Automation will be the best solutions for manufacturers and industry. The solution for most manufacturers will be education and automation. A good public relations plan and higher wages would also be helpful.
Education: Although many school districts and technical colleges throughout the country offer good programs in manufacturing, welding and robotics, they are not equipped to train the number of skilled workers needed. To overcome this obstacle, some companies have begun in-house training for their own unskilled workers to develop them into higher skilled employees. Others offer apprenticeships and technical college education for new hires.
Automation: Increased automation and robotics in manufacturing solves several problems: It decreases the number of skilled and unskilled workers needed, and it creates safer, cleaner and more efficient manufacturing environments.
Wages: With the economy growing and the number of workers decreasing, higher wages are inevitable (and a reality for many companies already).
Image: The image of dirty and non-progressive manufacturing work place hurts recruitment of qualified skilled labor. Manufacturing has become much more technical, many factories are clean and high-tech, and jobs are more interesting than in the past. The manufacturing environment is increasingly automated. The workforce of the future will need to be better trained and educated than past generations.
Facing the skilled worker shortage means creative problem solving and embracing and implementing the solutions discussed above. The key to our continued success will be a combination of automation of our manufacturing processes and educating our workforce to utilize the technology to its fullest. The companies that can accomplish this will be the winners in the next industrial revolution.