Looking at the Skills Gap Through the Lens of the Changing Manufacturing Industry

The skills gap is a phenomenon that has frequently dominated conversations surrounding the manufacturing industry in recent years. As the most recent study from Deloitte suggests, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs are expected to open up over the next decade, and about 2 million of those jobs are projected to go unfilled. On July 8, Rachel Abbey McCafferty of Crain’s Cleveland Business published an article that looks at the choices manufacturing businesses could make to solve the problem.

The article features the stories of small-to-medium manufacturing firms who are exploring new ways to holistically approach the skills gap and build their workforce. PMA President Roy Hardy is also quoted in the article about his views on the changing manufacturing industry.

McCafferty notes the recently successful and better-known approaches to combating the skills gap, like  partnerships with community colleges and other preexisting training programs, as well as working to get students engaged at younger ages through robotics competitions and Manufacturing Day events. Many are also expanding their apprenticeship programs and other in-house training options.

There is a lot of hope for the manufacturing industry. Companies are becoming more competitive with regard to employee wages, benefits and production. PMA President Roy Hardy spoke with McCafferty to share his view on the direction manufacturing is heading:

As manufacturing becomes more high tech, it becomes a more attractive industry to work in. It's not "dark" and "dangerous" anymore, said Roy W. Hardy, president of the Precision Metalforming Association in Independence[, Ohio]. He thinks the perception of the industry is changing for students and parents. And going forward, the high rate of college debt and the lack of guarantee that a degree will lead to a job could encourage young adults to reconsider skilled trades like manufacturing.

"As I visit members now, the workforce is getting younger, which is very encouraging," Hardy said.

Attitudes towards manufacturing are changing in ways that will benefit the industry. PMA members can be hopeful that the skills gap will decrease as the industry continues to change in ways that make it a more desirable field of employment.

For more ideas and resources to expand your company’s influence in career education and training within your community, visit PMA’s Center for Metalforming Careers (C4MC) at www.center4metalformingcareers.org.


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