Thursday, November 3, 2011

State of Emergency: Manufacturing’s Workforce Problem

In a recent national survey of manufacturers administered by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, 67% of respondents said they face a shortage of qualified workers.

As a result, many manufacturers can’t keep up with demand. It’s hardly the first time we’ve stressed the manufacturing worker shortage on this blog. But it’s worth revisiting today because the problem is increasingly urgent. How can we reinvigorate our stagnant national economy if one of its most significant drivers, cannot grow?

As a country, we must increase the supply of manufacturing workers with technical skills and education. But the relevant training programs are no longer as popular as they were for the baby boomers, a generation that was more fully supported in their pursuit of manufacturing careers.

Although the federal government is trying to address the manufacturing skills gap through various workforce development initiatives, manufacturers and their communities must also begin closing the gap on their own.

5 Ideas Manufacturers Can Implement Today

Create an employment brand. Just as you need the right messaging to attract the right customer, you need a strong employment brand to attract strong employment candidates. Ensure that your company’s values and culture are represented in this brand.

Refresh your careers section. Make sure you’re appealing to a younger generation. Include testimonials and biographies of current employees so young people can relate. Make your employment brand prevalent.

Use social networks. Reach young people where they hang out. Create a Facebook page and a YouTube channel and populate with videos. Showcase your facility, employees and what a day in the life looks like. Remember, most people never have been inside a manufacturing facility but have nevertheless formed negative opinions. Prove them wrong.

Start mentoring and onboarding programs. Engage and guide professional development and ongoing training. Implement a regular performance appraisal and feedback process. Maintain open and transparent communication between employees and management.

Form partnerships. Reach out to local vocational and technical educational facilities and organizations dedicated to workforce development. Work with them to design programs that include facility tours, open houses, speaking opportunities, student internships and teacher externships, apprentice programs, scholarship opportunities, etc. Get creative!

These are just a few examples of the many opportunities to attract and retain an engaged and productive workforce. What are some other ideas or programs have you seen implemented?


Craig Carrel said...

Great stuff. We are experiencing a shortage of "qualifed" talent for many of our positions. I would be interested in hearing more about creating an employment brand.

Craig Carrel said...


Our best success for recruitment for our plastics manufacturing operation has to be hire family, friends and recommendations for our current team members. We would love to hear ideas on how to have even more success in recruitment.