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How to Close the Manufacturing Skills Gap

In my last Blog, “Tackling the Manufacturing Skills Gap”, I highlighted the primary reasons the skills gap exists:

  • Increasing retirement rates of older skilled workers
  • Increasing labor needs of U.S. manufacturers
  • Negative image of manufacturing work among the young
  • Failure of educational institutions to provide relevant training

Business Technology

In a Deloitte study on this issue, manufacturing executives are reporting 94 recruiting days to hire engineers, scientists and researchers and 70 days to hire skilled production workers. These executives believe their EBITDA will be impacted by $3,000 for each un-hired employee, and some even believe as high as $14,000 per employee based on 50% of US companies planning to increase production by 5% over the next couple of years.

Tapping into New Recruiting Streams

So with an ROI case for all manufacturers to develop their talent pipeline, what are some of the options they can pursue? And how can they continue to develop moving forward as a core company competency to recruit, hire and retain highly skilled and loyal workers?

Besides the Advanced Manufacturing Competency model and the need for manufacturers to develop their talent pipeline by tapping into existing graduates with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degree backgrounds that I introduced in my previous blog, organizations have a few more options:

  1. Partnerships:
  • Community Colleges and Technical Colleges: Work with your local community colleges to identify your needs and get involved in establishing the curriculum and courses necessary to support your talent pipeline. Work with their student services department to communicate openings and sell the value of you organization.
  • High Schools: Work with your local high schools to ensure they are teaching a curriculum that supports STEM. Offer apprentice programs to students in their junior and senior year to provide potential recruits with a way to understand your industry and earn money for college. Additionally, begin selling a career in manufacturing.
  • Veterans Job Placement Associations: Unemployment is higher with veterans than any other unemployed group. According to the 2015 Veteran Economic Opportunity Report, 17% of Veterans in the 18 to 24-year-old group are unemployed. Also, women Vets have a higher unemployment rate than their male counterparts. Here’s a pool of talent that can be leveraged. Employers indicate that Veterans have the following people skills that don’t necessarily surface during interviews:
    • Self discipline
    • Team work
    • Attention to detail
    • Respect
    • Leadership
  1. Alternative Staffing Solutions:
  • Retired workers as consultants/part time workers: Leverage retired workers to train new qualified resources by setting up mentoring programs. Another idea is to form teams of retired workers who want to work part time to supplement their income. Resolve any benefits and pension issues prior to pursuing this option.
  • Highly skilled adults with autism: Some companies, such as SAP, are now beginning to pursue adults with autism to supply their talent pool with STEM skills, going beyond normal hiring practices. SAP decided that they needed individuals whose thinking was more out of the box to test their ideas and software. These workers have a high attention to detail and may be particularly useful when it comes to researching areas that require a unique but scientific perspective.

These are only the beginnings of some viable options companies can pursue to help close the manufacturing skills gap. While some options may present risks, they are risks worth taking to achieve the end goal— improving your company’s talent pipeline.

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