Addressing Today Skills Gap in Manufacturing

My new colleague, Kristin Hyla, reflects on her personal experience with career choices and the challenges manufacturers face attracting young talent in today’s economy:

Did you ever envision yourself working in a manufacturing job?

Personally, when I was in high school in 2003, the manufacturing industry was completely foreign to me.  If you would have asked me, I would have envisioned a manufacturing job as tiresome, low-paying and dirty.  Who even knew there were options other than a four-year college degree that could lead to a good job?

According to “Addressing Today’s Skills Gap in Manufacturing“, a recent study conducted by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, 60% of people polled showed great interest in a manufacturing job for themselves.  Even better, there are over 600,000 manufacturing jobs currently waiting to be filled!

So why are over half of all manufacturers struggling to fill positions?

There is a gap between the skills needed to do the job and those of the job seeker. This skills gap is expected to take the biggest toll on skilled production jobs and is expected to broaden over time.  According to Deloitte, the U.S. needs to position manufacturing with talent to aggressively compete globally; growth and expansion means an increase in middle class jobs.  Manufacturers recognize they need to develop the talent, but rely on informal and outdated methods to accomplish such tasks.

So what steps should manufacturers take?

One suggestion is to reach students in high school, especially those that are at a high risk of dropping out. We need to take a step back, put ourselves into the students’ shoes and figure out how to make them aware of other educational options.  Manufacturers and educators must present manufacturing jobs outside of the stereotypical box.

Manufacturers can also take steps in the right direction by better connecting with educational institutions, implementing knowledge management plans, mentoring and apprenticeship programs.

Why not give a high-risk dropout student a second chance by entering them into a mentoring program?  Provide mentoring opportunities for the math and science students to learn how the curriculum content relates to the real world.

If more options and programs like this were not just available, but consistently presented to students, I believe we could go a long way towards closing the manufacturing skills gap.

Judith writes: Northern Ohio manufacturers can take action to connect with young talent right now by joining MAGNET’s Manufacturing Ambassador program. Whether traveling to regional high schools or welcoming students to your facility, for a small investment of time and effort, you can make a big impact on a young person at the crossroads of their life. For more information, contact Kristin today:, or (216) 432-5324.

Posted by MAGNET Ohio in Attracting-Young-People-To-Manufacturing-Careers

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