After nearly relentless gloom and doom forecasts for more than a decade, recent reports suggest that the outlook is finally taking a positive turn for domestic manufacturing operations. During the early 2000’s, manufacturing firms were aggressively looking for ways to take advantage of cost cutting opportunities by moving operations overseas. Offshore labor, escape from domestic taxation, avoidance of processing and environmental regulations, and cheaper alternatives in China and Southeast Asia were steadily undermining the domestic manufacturing sector, specifically the job market.
But many of these trends seem to be undergoing an active reversal. With wages and costs beginning to stabilize in overseas markets, manufacturing decision makers are returning to U.S. shores in greater numbers. Meanwhile, orders are up, auto sales are increasing, and hiring is on the rise. Construction expenditures and equipment investments are also seeing an upward swing in the early months of 2014.
Labor and Staffing for U.S. Manufacturing Operations
So what does this mean for smaller domestic manufacturing operations in terms of labor and staffing? Here are a few key trends to expect in the years ahead.
1. Staffing will become more competitive.
A few years ago, manufacturing employers held the cards, and workers fearing for their jobs were doing all they could to sidestep cutbacks, even if it meant accepting fewer hours, too many hours, low wages, inadequate training, or misalignment between jobs and skill sets. Now that skilled employees are in higher demand, employers will need to work harder to reach top talent before their competitors do.
2. Positions will be increasingly specialized.
The overlap between manufacturing and technology grows wider every day. So employees with specific programming experience and knowledge of specialized equipment will be necessary in order for operations to run efficiently. Some of these skill sets may be hard to find.
3. The balance will tip in favor of skilled workers.
Once employers do find job seekers with these skill sets, they’ll go to great lengths to keep them on board. Salaries and benefits will rise, and companies that can’t keep up will feel the impact on their bottom lines.
4. Education and industry will partner.
In order to close the looming skills gap, employers will be looking for ways to educate and train promising employees in-house or on the job. This may involve sponsoring or supporting local universities as they initiate new training, apprenticeship, and work-for-hire programs.
For more information on how recovery in the manufacturing sector may impact your staffing strategy, reach out to the staffing experts at CSS.