Categorized | HR Strategies, Management

Manufacturing Skills in Short Supply

A recent article in the New York Times captured the current employment turmoil that defines our domestic manufacturing sector. Although a number of companies do have staff openings, they’re discovering it’s very difficult to find candidates with the advanced technical skills that the company needs.

Dispelling much of the media hype about our country’s decline in manufacturing, overall manufacturing production in the USA has remained remarkably constant for decades. What has changed dramatically is the number of jobs used to generate our manufacturing output. Since 1979 the manufacturing workforce has shrunk by 40% and there’s every indication that it will continue to shrink since the productivity of manufacturing workers has never been higher.

The decades-long decline in manufacturing jobs reveals several important factors of the manufacturing job market that must be understood and acted upon by job seekers, manufacturing companies and government entities alike.

  1. the lost jobs aren’t coming back. Just as the jobs for phone operators were replaced with digital switches that could handle exponentially more calls at a fraction of the price of an operator with a headset, manufacturing has embraced automation and will never return to manual processes.
  2. new manufacturing jobs require higher levels of technical skill. Manufacturers need employees who add value to the manufacturing process. They don’t need a warm body capable of punching a button to activate a punch press 120 times an hour. If you can’t provide more value than a simple machine, you will not get hired. Employers are looking for individuals who can operate and program their automated machines. These new positions requires mathematics and computer programming skills that former machine operators never developed.
  3. training is essential. Although there are thousands of machine operators who are potentially capable of updating their skills to include programming, these operators all need training. Solutions have to be developed privately and publicly to enable these workers to shift from simple machine operation to advanced programming, monitoring and operating.
  4. essential skills need to be introduced in high-school. The new manufacturing jobs are higher paying because they’re more demanding intellectually. They require an understanding of advanced mathematics, logic and programming that are not imparted in the current high school curriculum. Students should be introduced to the skills that will play an increasingly large role in their professional lives so they will be better prepared to step into real-world employment opportunities with a solid educational foundation.
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Tim McPherson

By Tim McPherson

Tim McPherson, President and COO for Nesco Resource, has over 27 years of experience in all facets of the Staffing Services Industry.

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