"What Skills Gap?": How Employee Benefits Can Help You Find the Right Talent

We hear it all the time: Manufacturers can’t find machine operators, maintenance staff, frontline workers, tool-and-die makers, etc. National statistics support these claims: the cumulative skills gap in manufacturing — positions that will go unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers — will grow to 2 million by 2025, according to Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.

What’s a growing company to do?

First: relax. It’s important to remember that macro trends don’t necessarily determine micro (i.e., company-specific) results. In fact, a closer look at plant-specific data suggests that engaged leaders can find the talent they need — if they know how to attract and retain it. It turns out that many skills gaps are self-inflicted by companies that offer uncompetitive wages, limited opportunities for career growth, and unsatisfactory work conditions.

For example, many plants don’t offer common employee benefits and programs, such as paid vacation days, paid medical benefits, a formal safety/health program, or paid sick and/or personal days. In fact, only 53 percent of manufacturing plants offer all four of those programs. Who wants to work at the other 47 percent?


HR Practices and Programs in Place % of plants
Paid vacation days 86%
Paid medical benefits 77%
Annual review and raise program 72%
Formal safety/health program 70%
Paid sick/personal days 70%
Formal employee training 64%
Leader/supervisor development 60%
Bonus plan 55%
Education reimbursements 53%
Team-building practices 42%
Recruiting and hiring programs 38%
Profit or revenue-sharing plan 37%
Apprenticeship program 19%
Employee-ownership options 11%
None of these 4%


It’s true, of course, that even employee-focused facilities can face unsolvable skills gaps, whether due a limited local talent pool, aggressive hiring by competitors, or a challenging work environment. If your organization is a place where people should want to work — but you still have trouble finding right talent — follow this time-tested six-step plan:

  1. Identify the specific role for which you need new skills.
  2. List all characteristics required, both technical and personal.
  3. Review existing employees to see if one might be able to grow into the position, with appropriate training and coaching.
  4. If internal promotion isn’t an option, work with HR to develop a job description and competitive compensation package.
  5. Recruit by selling your organization as a great place to work and grow.
  6. Accept that the perfect candidate doesn’t exist, and commit to onboarding and developing the right candidate.


The next time you hear a competitor or colleague complain about a skills gap at their company (or yours), ask yourself two questions: Is this the real (macro) thing, or is this a self-inflicted wound? And, more importantly: What can you or they do about it?

For more information, contact Linda Barita at 216.391.7766 or email linda.barita@magnetwork.org to schedule an appointment with our Growth Advisory team!

Posted by MAGNET Ohio in Workforce

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