In our post titled “The Problem With Manufacturing,” we mentioned a pretty staggering statistic: the fact that there are over 600,000 manufacturing jobs currently open in the United States. There’s obviously no shortage of unemployed people in the U.S., so what’s the deal? Why are there so many open manufacturing jobs?
The answer is the skills gap in the manufacturing field: there are a lot of open jobs, but not nearly enough people who are qualified to actually fill them.
For more on the skills gap that’s currently hurting the manufacturing industry, let’s take a look at a report from the folks at the Manufacturing Institute–“the authority on attraction, qualification, and development of world-class manufacturing talent.”
The institute’s report from 2011 (the most recent report, since there is a lag time on industry data) has a few important facts:
- The hardest jobs to fill are those that have the biggest impact on performance. Essentially, skilled production jobs have the biggest impact on performance, and they’re also starting to be hit the hardest by this skills gap. These open positions, then, are very important.
- 81% of manufacturing companies consider long-term workforce planning first when setting their corporate strategy.
- 51% of companies have had the most trouble maintaining production levels consistent with customer demand.
- 12% of manufacturers are predicting a low shortage of skilled labor in the next 3-5 years, 38% are predicting a moderate shortage, and 45% are predicting a serious shortage of skilled labor over time.
- 68% of companies say that having a high-skilled, flexible workforce is most likely to be the most important factor in their company’s success over the next 3-5 years.
The picture for manufacturers, then, is clear: over the next 3-5 years and beyond, there will be a very pronounced need for skilled manufacturers in the workforce. Without these skilled workers, manufacturing could start to struggle in a time where it’s once again starting to pick up speed.
So what does this mean? Well, given manufacturing companies’ predicted needs over time, it really does make sense to invest in the future of manufacturing. Whether that’s through trade schools, community college, or even apprenticeships after high school or college, there are a lot of paths to take, all of which involve an almost certain opportunity for good work in the future.
And for everyone else? The problem isn’t just going to happen 3-5 years from now. There’s already a shortage of skilled workers (with those 600,000 open jobs we mentioned), so give manufacturing a shot. Manufacturing is a healthy, high-tech industry, and if you’re not giving it a thought, you’re definitely missing out.