Hiring in the manufacturing sector dropped rapidly during the recent economic downturn and hit record lows in 2010. Since that point, numbers have been steadily rising, but they still aren’t quite in line with where they should be, and as they search for an explanation, experts are turning their attention toward a skills gap. According to research and survey responses from manufacturing managers, too few candidates possess the skills they need for success in manufacturing roles. And as a cohort of skilled, experienced employees approach retirement, the gap widens and the crisis becomes more urgent.
According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, a shortage of about 875,000 machinists, welders and industrial engineers will affect the manufacturing sector by 2020. So what efforts are taking place now, in 2016, to keep this from happening?
Job training programs sponsored by industry groups
Industry groups are joining together to sponsor and build job training programs that can prepare young people for roles in the manufacturing workplace. In order to succeed, these programs must target high school students and recent graduates, and they should provide incentives for the students and young people who participate. For example, these programs should pay salaries at or above minimum wage. If possible, they should provide the promise of a full-time position upon completion, or at the very least a clear leg-up in the job market.
Companies are partnering with university systems
As another innovative training option, companies and hiring managers are partnering with schools and universities to create job training programs that rely on the resources and infrastructure provided by the school. Companies support welding or machine courses and curriculums, and universities offer these courses and the skilled faculty necessary to staff them. Some programs offer an apprenticeship or on-the-job learning component, and students complete these programs with company job offers already in hand.
If your staffing program suffers from a lack of skilled applicants, or you can’t seem to find appropriate candidates for hard-to-staff positions, take action. Develop an onsite training program or an educational partnership that encourages young people to pursue a career in manufacturing. Don’t wait for trained, experienced candidates to show up at your door; find high potential matches and provide them with the knowledge and experience that can help them thrive in this industry.
In the meantime, invest in your employees. Hire under-skilled workers who show interest and promise, and provide them with the training and opportunities that will increase their value over time. For more on how to put together an in-house training program with long term investment potential, reach out to the Little Rock manufacturing staffing experts at CSS.