Automotive Workforce Development: A Report with Challenges and Solutions

Posted By: Jeff Krause, Chief Executive Officer, SME on January 18, 2018

For many years, American manufacturing was defined by the might and capability of automotive manufacturing and the businesses producing automotive parts and products; it remains an important part of the American economy. The U.S. auto industry saw 2017 sales of 17.2 million vehicles – the third-straight year of sales over 17 million vehicles. More than 948,200 U.S. workers are employed in auto manufacturing jobs, producing vehicles and parts for a domestic market – and a growing global market.

Jeff Krause, Chief Executive Officer, SME

Jeff Krause, Chief Executive Officer, SME

There is a challenge: Preparing the next and emerging American workforce adequately to take their place and advance this mobility manufacturing expertise. American manufacturers are experiencing a lack the availability of capable, prepared workers. Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to a STEM skills gap.

Kristin Dziczek, director of the Industry, Labor and Economics Group of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said “Demographic and technological trends are critical threats to the U.S. automotive industry’s ability to meet future talent demands. The U.S. automotive leadership position is in jeopardy.”

Forward Together: Developing Next-Gen Talent for the Automotive Sector,” our just-released SME study, asked leaders and experts in the U.S. auto sector to identify which issues pose the greatest concern as they prepare for the future. Significantly, more than half expect to lose 20 percent or more of their workforce due to retiring workers. Three-quarters anticipate major challenges finding the workers they need to fill positions requiring skilled and prepared workers.

SME and its partners in the auto manufacturing sector have worked together to develop specific, customized talent solutions that help combat some of these issues and concerns. Through Tooling U-SME, individual manufacturers are supported in the construction of highly effective plans for training and onboarding based on a thorough analysis of precise market conditions and projected needs. Follow-ups with individualized competency frameworks help ensure proper employee training and development.

Younger workers must be educated about career opportunities in the skilled trades so today’s automakers and OEMs can attract the fresh talent they’ll need now and in the coming decades.

We’re pleased to introduce this report and hope you’ll use it to increase your organization’s understanding and create your own path to workforce development success.

Tags: automotive, "Jeff Krause", "Kristin Dziczek", "Labor and Economics Group of the Center for Automotive Research", manufacturing, "retiring workers", SME, "Tooling U-SME", "workforce development"