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Addressing the Manufacturing Skills Gap

With unemployment still of concern in our region, it’s often surprising to hear that employers aren’t able to find qualified individuals to fill open positions. This is amplified within the manufacturing sector, where employers report that jobs remain unfilled because they can’t find people with the right skills. Additionally, the manufacturing industry is being hit with wide-scale employee retirements at a time when manufacturing is growing within the economy.

The jobs that remain unfilled are those which require skilled production workers – machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors and technicians. Other open jobs within the manufacturing industry that are paramount to continuous innovation include researchers, scientists and engineers.

Employers can help to bridge the skills gap by implementing strategies to recruit, onboard, develop and retain quality employees. By getting creative and building partnerships with high schools, trade schools, community colleges and universities, employers can recruit new talent through internships and other programs.

Successful onboarding requires adequate training, often from existing employees, who may be pulled from their jobs to assist in building technical skills. An alternative way to develop employees can include offering opportunities outside of their daily tasks, such as special projects or rotational assignments.

Lastly, employers should work to retain quality employees via ongoing workforce planning and building a commitment to their employees, including offering a diverse and flexible training program, adequate benefits and developing employee recognition programs.

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