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A Shortage of Skilled Workers in Manufacturing


A widely recognized shortage of skilled labor in the manufacturing sector may reach a critical tipping point during the next ten years. Within a decade, about 3.5 million skilled manufacturing positions will be made available by employers across the sector, but almost 2 million of those open positions are expected to stand unfilled. In other words, almost two out of every three available positions will not be staffed within established employer timelines, because these employers won’t be able to find and attract appropriate candidates.

For some seasoned manufacturing managers, this news comes as no surprise. A much touted “skills gap” in this industry has been looming for decades, and employers and policy makers have had ample opportunity to take action. But they’ve also faced obstacles, namely two: action requires money, and cultivating skills means providing training opportunities… which requires money. Employers have been waiting for lawmakers, higher education administrators, and policy groups to step in and fix the problem. Meanwhile, they’ve avoided making the training investments that might have headed off the issue before it became a crisis.

If these critical talent shortages are taking a toll on your own staffing program, it may too late to rewrite the past. But you can still take action now by forming strategic partnerships.

Connect with Training Venues

If your mid-sized manufacturing firm is similar to most, you be steadily automating your processes, but you still need skilled employees who can program, troubleshoot, and maintain these forms of automation. You’ll need mechanical skills, including welding and assembly. And you’ll also need employees who can understand pneumatics, hydraulics, logic controllers, and variable drives. You’ll also need writing, speaking, and presentation skills so your teams can explain problems and work together to solve them.

With this in mind, make contact with local community colleges and vocational schools and find out how your needs align with existing curriculums. Find out if you can influence the curriculum or design courses in exchange for funding and other forms of support. Offer your facility as a training resource for school-to-work programs, and propose internships and work study programs that may provide mutual benefit to graduates, educators, and your own operation.

Partner with a Staffing Agency

In the meantime, if you have open positions that need to be staffed immediately, reach out to an experienced staffing agency like CSS. Find out how out how our temporary and contingency employment programs can meet your long term and short term requirements for skilled labor. We can offer part time, temporary, or temp to hire employees, and we have access to employees across the country who offer a wide range of highly valuable skill sets. Our expert sourcing program can identify and attract specialized candidates, and our flexible contract options can help you hold onto these experts as long as you need them. Contact our office and arrange a consultation in order to learn more.

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