In a recent blog, we discussed why training is essential to building the talent needed by the manufacturing industry to ensure a sustainable supply of productive workers. Manufacturing technology is evolving – making technical skills progressively more essential for someone to work in the sector. In response, quite a few companies have made workforce reskilling a more important part of their talent management strategy. However, as the manufacturing industry is embracing the changes in other technologies useful to the sector, more and more production tasks are passing out of the realm of what human workers are capable of and are being performed by automation technologies. Moreover, labor intensive jobs in manufacturing have a way of being off-shored (or staying off-shore) where labor is cheaper.
Manufacturing in America today takes up only an 8.7% share in the total employment, compared to 13% in 2000 but there is no doubt that employment in the sector has been showing clear signs of growth since 2010.
Employment in the Manufacturing Sector (www.bls.gov)
Today’s manufacturing jobs in America have almost nothing to with the skills possessed by the manufacturing employees who lost their jobs when manufacturing was off-shored. From requiring one in four applicants to possess more than a high school education, the industry has come to a place where it requires 70% of its workers to possess specialized skills. The industry is now driven by computers and electronics Even if the sector is willing to train the workers it needs, these workers will need to be tech-savvy, possess mathematical abilities, be technically minded and have a scientific spirit.
There is one source which fits these requirements on most counts – the returning veterans of the U.S. military. Today’s U.S. military is high tech. Many of the skills developed while serving in the armed forces are directly transferable to production environments. Veterans can easily transition to jobs in manufacturing with a little relevant training provided they have proficiency in the use of mathematics, science or computers. In addition, most veterans already possess the selfsame traits which manufacturers look for, such as the ability to work in teams, to maintain control of equipment, to understand and follow operating instructions, and the ability to accept and implement assignments.
The Department of Veteran Affairs is working to transition the millions of veterans returning from active duties. The following image taken from the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics provides an insight into the number of veterans looking for suitable civilian roles.
The manufacturing industry is looking to fill 600,000 vacancies, and the fit seems obvious. Let us look at the ways in which employing veterans in the manufacturing industry will prove a win-win for both employers and applicants.
At DCR, we actively encourage our clients to engage veterans through the establishment of veteran hiring goals and work preparation assistance programs. We invite others to join us in this effort.
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