According to the Manufacturing ISM Report Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in June for the 30th consecutive month.
This is great news, but carries some concerns. According to the Manufacturing Institute, the industry is facing a skills gap which has left open nearly 600,000 domestic jobs. Manufacturing as an industry requires an industrial ecosystem which meets its need for resources. Skilled workers are at the top of these requirements. However, many of the current workers in manufacturing are heading for retirement and for many reasons, finding new workers does not seem to be an easy task.
Does it mean that the growth trajectory of the resurrected manufacturing industry will fail to attain its potential and plummet to a low level? Continued growth will require some strategic measures from the industry to counteract the negative pressures on finding the talent they need.
Factors Impacting the Need for Talent:
The manufacturing industry has experience waxing and waning demand of talent over the years. Some of the factors which have contributed to the emerging demand for manufacturing talent are enumerated below:
Manufacturing Jobs today:
Manufacturing may be seeing some unskilled jobs being outsourced overseas, but skilled workers are in demand for technical or factory floor jobs across the board in manufacturing. Technology changes at such a pace that there is always a lag between education and labor market requirements.
For Business: Manufacturing companies have realized the value of contingent workers so much so that the manufacturing industry employs nearly half of all contingent workforces. It is interesting to note that both skilled and unskilled manufacturing roles are being filled by contingent workforces. By engaging contingent workforces through staffing agencies, which enjoy an access to established talent pipelines for the manufacturing industry, these companies save time when recruiting, interviewing and screening candidates. Another reason why contingent are highly utilized is that they can be brought on board to meet spikes in production, whether seasonal or to meet the deliveries on a big order. Companies may also choose to make workers permanent, using their contingent worker program as a testing program for new workers before investing in their training and benefits.
For the Worker: Skilled workers are paid well, as competition for highly skilled manufacturing talent results in high wages for permanent and temporary workers. The worker can be exposed to a new industry, expand their existing skill sets, gain experience and work on a flexible schedule. They have a better opportunity to gain permanent position, if they are so inclined and the employer’s need turns out to be long term. Even if the worker does not bring in the right skill set, the manufacturing industry is open to providing ongoing learning opportunities to acquire the needed skills, improving their prospects for career growth and ultimate success in the job market.
The pressures on the manufacturing industry to maintain a highly skilled workforce are making the industry depend heavily on contingent workers, as many of them possess industry-specific training. According to an estimate by Accenture, contingent workers comprise up to 33% of the U.S. workforce, whereas research by Ardent Partners expects the number to touch 45% by 2020. Manufacturing companies today are savvy enough to build a culture and employer brand that attracts both permanent and temporary workers and serves the needs of an extended workforce.
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