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3 reasons why there’s a manufacturing skills gap

We shared earlier this month that automation and the introduction of technology are changing the skills needed in manufacturing jobs. Some researchers believe the talent deficit is growing as available workers struggle to develop the right skills for an evolving industry.

A new body of literature suggests that these emerging technology advancements may not be behind the talent gap – in fact, it’s the other way around.

1. With fewer available workers – technology is one way of picking up the slack.

The New York Times reports many states are experiencing full employment (which many economists consider under 4% unemployment). While this is a perfect environment for workers, it also means companies are competing to find talent in a smaller labor market. Additional factors, such as workers being more selective about their work environment and benefits, only compound the problem. Bottom line – to fill open jobs, we need humans and robots.

2. It’s not me, it’s you.

According to this piece from the Pew Charitable Trusts, hiring workers is more challenging than expected given the low unemployment rate. But, blaming it on automation and globalization is too simplistic of an explanation. Wages have not risen to meet the rising demand for workers – implying that the labor shortage is not due to a skills gap, but the jobs are not attractive enough (location, low wages, and/or undesirable shifts). Pew also highlights the disparity between job requirements and worker needs, such as a lack of labor mobility in a struggling region (from overreliance on one industry) and lack of social support (such as childcare options for working parents).

3. Manufacturing should look cool.

Resolving the disconnect between worker and employer may be as simple as rebranding traditionally blue-collar industries towards a more tech-savvy millennial generation. Manufacturing Global suggests the industry, with its influx of innovative technology, flexible work environment, increased pay, and short transition time between high school and full-time work, is well-suited to millennial preferences. They just don’t know about it yet.

It’s clear the manufacturing industry is changing. While technology is one factor causing a mismatch between available labor and available jobs, it’s only one piece of the story.

Next month, we’ll share resources available to companies in the Cincinnati region that can ease the transition into the next tech-driven era.

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