Workforce 2021 Report: Gambler or Visionary?

Posted By: Jeannine Kunz, Chief Workforce Development Officer, SME on September 15, 2016

We hear it all the time: we can’t ______.

How would you fill in the blank?

  • Take on more customers
  • Find enough skilled workers
  • Provide on-time delivery of the quality products customers expect
  • Add your daily challenge

What we also see is an execution gap.

Back in 2011, as part of our Mission Critical: Workforce 2021 initiative, Tooling U-SME sounded the alarm that the future success of manufacturing is at risk by the end of the decade if industry does not address the growing skills gap.

To assess and gauge a company’s performance related to this challenge, we introduced a one-of-a-kind “Workforce 2021 Assessment” tool.

We asked manufacturers a brief series of questions about a company’s knowledge retention, readiness of future skill requirements and the status of employee development programs to see if they were ready for the talent crisis ahead.

We are already halfway to the year 2021 and the news isn’t good. Responses from five years of insights from the Workforce 2021 Assessment show there has been little advancement.

Only a very small number of world-class organizations are prepared for the extreme talent gap predicted by the year 2021. We call these Visionary companies. Unfortunately, most respondents fell into the Gambler and Procrastinator categories.

This causes us concern about the long-term health and competitiveness of the manufacturing industry.

We know that manufacturers across the country struggle to find the workforce they need. According to our Mission Critical: Workforce 2021 report, nearly 9 out of 10 respondents (88%) say that their company is having problems finding skilled workers in manufacturing.

Yet here are some troubling findings:

  • Only 4% agree that their company does an excellent job of consistently delivering the right training and development programs throughout the organization.
  • 33% say their job-related training options are minimal.
  • 75% say their company doesn’t offer a structured training program on manufacturing skills.
  • 76% say that the training their company provides its manufacturing employees is not adequate to meet the needs of the organization going forward.

Why is there so little action, especially when we know a well-trained workforce is a competitive advantage for companies, driving innovation, customer satisfaction, quality, productivity and growth?

There is a false sense of security among many manufacturers who are not recognizing these future challenges or investing in the development of their workforce today.

Taking basic steps now can help make sure you have the right – and enough – skilled workers to meet customer demands. To ensure the health of your business and the manufacturing industry, the time to act is now.

Are you a Visionary or Gambler? Take the updated Workforce 2021 Assessment at

For insights and best practices, download the Tooling U-SME Mission Critical: Workforce 2021 report or reach out to us now.

Tags: "customer satisfaction", "Jeannine Kunz", manufacturing, "Mission Critical", productivity, quality, "skilled workers", "skills gap", training, workforce, "Workforce 2021"