Man training apprentice on a machineOver the past few years, a lot of ink has been spilled about the looming shortage of manufacturing workers and the “skills gap.”

A 2018 report by Deloitte for, example, predicts that over the next decade, more than 2.4 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled.

The study found that “most companies expect job categories where they have rated the current shortage “very high”—digital talent, skilled production, operational managers—to triple in terms of difficulty in filling positions in the next three years.”

The labor shortage is already having an impact. Reports indicate that manufacturers are finding that jobs are taking longer to fill –in some cases, months.

There are real consequences to the inability to fill positions quickly (if at all). It becomes difficult, if not impossible, for manufacturers to respond to new market opportunities. Without the necessary talent, it also becomes a challenge to maintain or increase production levels to satisfy growing customer demands.

Why the Shortage of Talent?

Commonly mentioned reasons for the shortage of talent include:

  • Shifting skill sets due to the introduction of advanced technologies. In other words, the skills required for jobs often do not match the skills of workers today.
  • Negative perceptions of manufacturing jobs.
  • Retirement of baby boomers. Millions of skilled workers are expected to retire in the next few years.

Any one of these factors could be enough to create a labor crunch. Combined, they create a disruption to the industry that must be taken seriously and attacked using various strategies.

Jennifer McNelly, president of the Manufacturing Institute, stated in 2015, “Manufacturers can no longer afford to wait for an educated and trained next generation of manufacturing talent. They will need to do more to develop their talent pool, and the same old approaches no longer apply.”

Meeting the Challenge

To help meet the increased demand for talent head-on, Integrity will soon pilot an apprenticeship training program in cooperation with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC). IMEC and surrounding counties, with the assistance of Federal grant funding, are paying a portion of the cost of training and curriculum development.

The 18-24 month program will allow Integrity employee, Patrick Fudge, to receive training and mentoring in tool and die making by working alongside his colleague Geoff Johnson – an experienced tool and die maker.

At the completion of the trial phase (and evaluation), Integrity can obtain apprentices for training from workforce boards while IMEC grant funds will continue to pay half of the training costs.

Training Programs Benefit Everyone

Today, many young workers struggle to attain the education and work experience they need to land a good job with a career path. In addition, many experienced frontline workers are shut off from career opportunities because they do not have the training or credentials required to advance to more specialized, technical occupations.

Yet, manufacturers need a pipeline of skilled workers. Innovative, industry-based, training and apprenticeship programs are a way for manufacturers to fill their pipeline. Young people benefit from career training and the opportunity to quickly enter the workforce. Existing workers benefit from the opportunity to gain new skills and advance in their careers.

For more information about careers in manufacturing see this article and stay tuned on social media and our blog for updates on our training program.



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