Manufacturing Skills Gap: What is it, and how do we bridge that in 2024? 

Manufacturing Skills Gap What it is and How to Bridge that in 2024

Globally, manufacturing employers are grappling to find skilled individuals to meet workplace demands, according to a survey by Manpower Group. What started as an aftermath of the pandemic, the talent crisis in manufacturing has been increasing staggeringly. Soon, the Great Resignation trend came along, further making matters worse. Additionally, if we look at the report by AARP, around 10,000 people retire every day, further decreasing the existing workforce and widening the skill gap. With a rapidly retiring workforce, a growing number of reluctant individuals to sign up for manufacturing work, and employers unable to find the desired candidate for the available jobs- all result in an acute manufacturing skills gap.  

We know how pivotal the manufacturing sector is for any economy, and having a shortage of skilled individuals can wreak havoc. As highlighted in a Deloitte report, this surge in unfilled jobs can result in a staggering loss of over $1 trillion in GDP. So, the need of the hour is to understand the manufacturing skills gap and find effective ways for manufacturers to bridge it, especially now in 2024. 

What is the manufacturing skills gap?  

The skills gap is easy to identify. It is when several open job positions in the industry remain vacant because of not finding the suitable candidates for the job roles. Recruiters struggle to find employees with the necessary technical skills, industry knowledge, and expertise needed for the available positions. Without the right workforce, manufacturers will lose the capability to be agile and adaptive. They should be equipped to respond to market demands and customer requirements. Not keeping up with trends can result in losing valuable customers in this competitive market. As we mentioned above, there are several reasons behind this widening skills gap. 

Aging and retiring workers 

With around 10,000 workers reaching the age of 65 every day, according to the AARP report mentioned earlier, a significant chunk of the workforce will likely retire in the coming decade. Manufacturers have to plan a replacement for the aging workforce as the years progress. 

Retaining the workforce 

Not just retiring workers, retaining the existing workers is also a significant challenge. According to a survey by Plant Services in 2019, 47% of manufacturers stated that retaining their present workforce is the biggest challenge they face. 

Difficulty in filling up vacancies 

Once a job position becomes vacant, the manufacturers face a severe shortage of qualified candidates to fill up the vacancies. The Plants Services survey further pinpoints this. Many of the employable candidates are, in fact, not looking forward to working in manufacturing.  

Evolving requirements 

The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving by introducing new technologies to boost production. Employers introduce new machines, components, and solutions that the existing workforce has to adapt to. Most of the time, employees do not get enough training to handle them. When they are not trained sufficiently to use the new tech, it further broadens the skills gap.  

How do we bridge this manufacturing skills gap? 

The need of the hour is for manufacturers to upskill and reskill the existing workforce. A key priority is understanding, acknowledging, and meeting their needs with thoughtful collaboration. Technology can also play a key role in bridging this skills gap. With upskilling and reskilling practices, manufacturers can positively impact the existing workers and attract new talent, too. Let us find out how. 

Having opportunities for growth 

Nowadays, employees are looking for jobs that provide opportunities to grow. Nobody wants to be stuck with a dead-end job. Employers can clearly outline the steps toward their employees’ career advancement within a company. For example, a maintenance technician can aspire to become a supervisor and will prefer organizations that are transparent about their employees’ career growth pathways.  

Aligning business practices with values 

With many millennial employees present, they regard businesses as modern global entities. Considering themselves as global citizens, they tend to sign up with organizations whose practices align with their modern values. They expect the businesses to share their values and subsequently garner more loyalty. For instance, millennials prefer a collaborative leadership approach rather than the ‘command and controlling’ style. Studies have shown that a collaborative work environment has boosted the capabilities of and has resulted in 5 times better performance. This approach not only helps in retaining but also attracts employees to the organization. 

Upskilling and reskilling programs- Investing in employees. 

As technology evolves, manufacturing companies will continue to invest in the latest technology, such as automation and robotics, to boost their efficiency and augment the workforce. Providing apt upskilling and reskilling programs for the employees can bridge the skills gaps of the evolving sector. Having tailored training programs, improving technical proficiency, cross-training for flexibility, and working on soft skills development are good ways to address the skills gap. These programs also attract employees to organizations that offer opportunities to develop their skills, fostering employee satisfaction and retention. 

Augment the workforce with AI- fostering intelligent operations. 

According to a McKinsey Global Survey, 40% of manufacturers worldwide will increase their AI investment in 2024. Manufacturers will continue to leverage data analytics and ML algorithms in their processes and systems to boost efficiency with predictive maintenance, quality control, accurate scenario planning, risk reduction, and more. 2024 will witness an increased investment in IoT devices for real-time data, ML algorithms for predictive analytics, and task automation for repetitive mundane tasks. Manufacturers who increase their digital maturity, have a robust data and analytics foundation, and embrace digital transformation also attract young employees, especially Gen Z and millennials. 

Technology can be a two-way sword. On one hand, tech advancements can intimidate and increase the skills gap without collaboration, proper training, and upskilling programs. Meanwhile, the same tech advancements can close the skills gap by efficiently empowering the workforce. The presence of the skill gap in the manufacturing sector indicates a notable lack of knowledge, training, and aspirations among the people.  

Minimize the skill gap with Proceso App. 

The Proceso App is an AI-powered no-code solution designed to empower your manufacturing workforce by breaking data silos, streamlining operations, and much more. It eliminates tedious paper-based operations, connects the frontline workforce with the back office, and ensures transparency. Workers can seamlessly access the latest work instructions and checklists using the Proceso App and work much more efficiently. Its real-time support for frontline workers enhances their work conditions and removes bottlenecks in their day-to-day jobs. The app also ensures occupational safety by making guidelines, instructions, and SOPs readily available.  

Not just for front liners, Proceso App caters to the entire manufacturing company with solutions for supervisors, managers, auditors, compliance officers, executives, cross-functional approvals officers, and more. With enhanced collaboration and employee experience, you can nurture, retain, and attract employees and effectively bridge the skills gap. 

Get a seven-day free trial of Proceso App.

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