The Skills Gap: Manufacturing’s Greatest Challenge
Jeannine Kunz, Vice President, Tooling U-SME on
September 11, 2018
This week, more than 115,000 manufacturers will gather in Chicago for IMTS
to get ideas and find answers to their manufacturing challenges. They will
see new technology demonstrated, talk to technical experts and find
There’s a lot of talk about ways to cut costs, boost quality and
productivity, keep up with new technology, improve plant operations and
find new business. But when you dig deeper, it really comes down to
building a skilled workforce. Manufacturing’s greatest challenge continues
to be the skills gap.
Today, here at IMTS, Tooling U-SME released our
Industry Pulse: 2018 Manufacturing Workforce Report. The report shows that many manufacturers are
still not effectively addressing the threats created by retirements, a
decreased talent pipeline and the need for new, advanced technology skills. Summarizing findings from Tooling U-SME’s
Industry Pulse: 2018 Manufacturing Workforce Study, the report reveals that
employers are feeling the impact of the workforce shortage, yet only two
out of five companies train people to develop the right skills.
Wall Street Journal
article claimed that the economy
appears poised to expand this year at the fastest clip since the recession
ended in 2009. This is great news for the manufacturing industry, but only
if we’re prepared to meet this growth with a skilled workforce ready to
meet new demands.
The results of the Industry Pulse: 2018 Manufacturing Workforce Report clearly reveal that many manufacturers are not prepared.
The lowest unemployment rate in years, along with high turnover and looming
retirements, are adding extreme pressure to the workforce. Three of the top
challenges companies face in the next three years revolve around developing
a skilled workforce. Yet, three-quarters of the study respondents say their
company does not have a talent development strategy for manufacturing
Manufacturers can’t afford to ignore the skills gap any longer.
By focusing now on top priorities such as finding skilled new hires,
upskilling the incumbent workforce, and retaining employees, companies will
be better positioned for productivity and profitability in an expanding
Many workforce development actions are within employers’ control, such as
retaining new hires and making positions appealing to candidates. Solid
onboarding and job qualification programs, robust blended learning and
development programs, and clearly defined career pathways with skills
compensation plans all contribute to a high-performance workforce.
Tooling U-SME has identified five best practices for building a
Identify the business objectives.
Define performance-based competency models.
Align learning solutions to develop knowledge and skills.
Structure your on-the-job training (OJT) program.
Develop and execute a measurable impact study.
Read the entire report
We’re here to help you tackle your organization’s workforce challenges
head-on or identify some projects to get you started in the right
To read more about the results of our Industry Pulse: 2018
Manufacturing Workforce Study, click on the stories below:
Manufacturers Drive Productivity with a Skilled Workforce (July 31,
New Technology Requires Advanced Workforce Training (Aug 9, 2018)
Workforce Study: Formalized Training Reduces Scrap and Rework (Aug 14,
Proper Training a Must for Employee Safety (Aug 21, 2018)
"high-performance workforce", IMTS, "manufacturing skills gap", productivity, "Tooling U-SME", "workforce development"