Is it really possible to have high unemployment and still not be able to find good workers? If you’re in manufacturing and like many of our manufacturing clients, the answer is likely to be yes. It’s that distinction of “skilled workers” that causes the gap. Recent media attention surrounding a poll by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute has directed a spotlight on this issue that we in the trenches have seen for some time – U.S. manufacturers aren’t able to fill as many as 600,000 positions due to a lack of skilled labor.

When the current average age of manufacturing employees is 45, companies are looking for new ways to spark the interest of younger recruits. The perception of manufacturing jobs is one that is monotonous and in a lackluster environment, making it difficult to entice students to pursue careers in the industry. The reality, as we at Amend and our client know, is that today’s manufacturing jobs offer excellent opportunities

These jobs are often computerized, challenging, interesting and require a specific attention to detail. We also find that strong math, engineering and practical mechanical know-how are a must. These “common” skills aren’t as common as one might think.

With this in mind, every manufacturer must implement a strategy to attract and retain the right talent; every manufacturing company should have a strong training and development program in place for both apprentices and existing employees. If you invest in an effective program, it will directly contribute to the bottom line.

Any strategy must tackle the issue on multiple fronts:

  • Recruitment – What does your environment have to offer that other manufacturers don’t?
  • Training – How are you passing knowledge and experience from older, experienced workers, to newer team members?
  • Engagement – How is your company morale? Do your employees think like owners? Do they recognize their impact on the bottom line?
  • Retention – How do you keep your most qualified team members from going elsewhere?
  • Advancement – Do employees have realistic opportunities to improve and move up within your organization? What does your succession plan look like?
  • Leadership – Are your managers really leading? Or are they just “in charge”?

While some manufacturers see the value in a comprehensive training and development program, others continue to push it off or complain they can’t afford it. With the current employee trends in manufacturing, and the environment we’re seeing in the field with our clients, we argue that you can’t afford to ignore this issue. Processes and equipment only work when you have the team working them.

Read more about the survey results.