Manufacturing is experiencing more growth right now than it has in years, but an ongoing skills gap threatens to hold this growth back. Several things have contributed to this talent shortage. The level of difficulty involved in manufacturing jobs has increases because the industry now uses more automation. There is also a misconception about what manufacturing actually entails, which impacts people’s interest in these careers. Here is a closer look at the skills gap in manufacturing and what can be done to minimize this gap.

Invest in Training and Education

By 2025, there is expected to be as many as 2 million open jobs in the field. Some companies could end up spending months trying to fill vacancies, and some could even end up spending a year. One way to combat this skills gap is to invest in training. The skills required for these jobs are becoming more specialized. Many of the current employees in the industry don’t have these specialized skills. Thus, training and education needs to increase to fill in this gap. At the same time, there are fewer young professionals interested in manufacturing careers. The industry has lost some of its prestige in the eyes of college-aged students and their parents. To overcome the skills gap, we have to drum up interest in manufacturing jobs again. This could mean going to high schools and community colleges and advertising the advantages of working in the industry. Many people think manufacturing jobs entail a lot of hard work without a lot of reward, which simply isn’t true.

There Is Also a Generation Gap

Another critical issue is the number of baby boomers who are retiring. They are retiring faster than young professionals are entering the field. This has contributed greatly to the talent shortage. Even though many baby boomers are retiring, they are still great assets to a company. This population still holds much of the talent and skills necessary for manufacturing. Thus, until training and education takes effect, you might have to hire retired professionals for short term gigs. Some retired professionals will also be willing to help with training.

Retention Will be Key

When you do find professionals with the right skill set, you have to do everything you can do to keep them. With so many unfilled positions, they will easily be able to find another job if they aren’t satisfied. Some companies are implementing special perks to try to improve retention, such as accommodating more remote work when possible. Having a solid onboarding process, however, is especially important to retaining talent. If you can make new employees feel comfortable and appreciated, they are much more likely to stay.

The manufacturing industry has rebounded in recent years, but a gap in skills stands to limit the growth of the industry. It is also going to become harder to fill positions. To win in a talent shortage, you need to invest in education and put extra effort into attracting and retaining talent.

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Photo credit: Kenny Luo, Unsplash