The skills gap in manufacturing is only expected to widen in the coming decade. With so many baby boomers retiring and less people entering it as a career path, the gap will remain.
Instead of waiting for the situation to reverse itself, many employers are taking matters into their own hands by starting apprenticeship or training programs. Why? Because they work. With it getting harder and harder to find candidates with the necessary hard skills and soft skills, employers are finding it worth their time to invest in training.
Manufacturers are finding promising candidates and either using their own company resources and mentors to train them or are forming partnerships with local schools and technical colleges to do so. SEEK Careers/Staffing partners with local companies through its Trainable Fit program, matching talent with trainable programs on-site. SEEK identifies promising candidates and then places them in apprenticeship positions so they can learn a trade for life. One of the great ironies of trying to find manufacturing talent is that many employers want to hire someone with experience, but no one is willing to give it to them. These types of programs address that issue head-on.
Some manufacturers are upgrading their entire facilities to bring in candidates. Geoff Luther, Owner and President of A-1 Tool in Melrose Park, IL, has built a kitchen and gym within his company to attract and retain top talent. His company has also created a process map which highlights efficient processes and the path of upward mobility so that employees can clearly see how they can succeed within the company. Luther says too many companies are “failing at providing a path for success”.
Other companies are partnering with local schools and even districts to create programs which will funnel talent to them. In Illinois, the Golden Corridor Advanced Manufacturing Partnership consists of about 20 manufacturers who pair with school districts to create programs which will prepare students for a career in manufacturing. They provide student internships, sponsor robotics contests, donate equipment, and give open house tours of their companies, all in an effort to introduce and attract them to the manufacturing industry.
SEEK promotes the skilled trades in local high schools through its informational marketing material highlighting the benefits of careers in manufacturing. Part of narrowing the skills gap requires educating students about viable alternatives to a traditional 4 -year degree and addressing outdated stereotypes about the industry. It also requires educating parents in a similar way by addressing their concerns and showing them how skilled manufacturing provides a good, stable career for their children.
These steps forward are the kinds of steps necessary to address and eventually fill the skills gap in the manufacturing industry. SEEK Careers/Staffing partners with local manufacturers as part of the long-term solution.
Wisconsin celebrates and promotes manufacturing careers during the entire month of October.