If you build it, will they come? How events like MFG Day could be the key to overcoming the talent crisis in manufacturing

No imageBy Ben Dollar

With the majority of 2016 Manufacturing Day events kicking off October 7th, companies are reflecting on talent strategies that could potentially revitalize and protect the future of manufacturing. And, taking part in this growing initiative can help manufacturers in their pursuit to overcome talent challenges. Want to understand how being a part of Manufacturing Day can really help change perceptions? Host or attend a MFG Day event and be sure to invite your participants to take part in a post-event survey, created by the Manufacturing Day producers and Deloitte, to see the impact you and the industry are having on changing perceptions. You can also access tools to promote participation by using the host toolkit.

First, let’s consider the importance of manufacturing to the US economy. Every job in manufacturing creates another 2.5 jobs in local goods and services and every dollar spent in manufacturing adds $1.37 to the American economy.1,2 Also consider that manufacturing employs 9 percent of the workforce, supporting more than 12 million workers directly and 17.4 million jobs in total. Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the 9th largest economy in the world.3

At the same time however, manufacturing faces a significant challenge relating to talent:

Nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be available in the United States, but the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled.

Why is this problematic? For a number of reasons:

We don’t have replacements. Manufacturing executives indicate that finding talent with required skills is challenging. Eighty-four percent of manufacturing executives surveyed in the Skills Gap study by Deloitte LLP and the Manufacturing Institute agree there’s a talent shortage in US manufacturing, and they estimate that six out of 10 open skilled production position are unfilled due to the shortage. The shortage is acute in both skilled production workers and scientists, engineers, and researchers. High schools, trade schools, and colleges are not producing skilled workers fast enough to fill the gap. And the gap is significant: 70 percent of surveyed executives report their current workers do not have adequate technology and computer skills.4

Negative perception. Perceptual issues compound the supply problem. An outdated image of the industry as “dirty, dumb, dangerous, and disappearing”5 persists, rather than the more accurate picture of manufacturing as a modern economic engine that drives more innovation (three-quarters) than any other private-sector industry.6 Only 22 percent of Millennials surveyed globally view manufacturing as a desirable sector for employment.7

“Brain drain.” The combination of people retiring or leaving manufacturing to pursue careers in other industries, jobs displaced from offshoring, and weak knowledge management practices has resulted in a significant loss of manufacturing knowledge that is not easily recovered.

Manufacturing is at an inflection point. Either close the skills gap to support growth and keep and create jobs in the United States or risk increasing reliance on offshore resources. This is no small challenge, but national campaigns like Manufacturing Day present innovative strategies to change the perception of manufacturing and address talent shortfalls in a variety of ways:

  • Fostering long-term career development and growth through innovative learning practices. Event attendees are provided with experiential development, creating a culture in which learning and knowledge sharing are highly rewarded.
  • Events act as new recruiting sources and provide a fresh perspective on the skills needed and candidates who might ultimately be successful on the job.
  • Consider recruiting and employment from a marketing perspective–MFG Day events give manufacturers the ability to reshape their employment brands by engaging with attendees and event organizers through various social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Periscope and Snapchat.

Interested in reducing the talent gap? Consider hosting or attending a Manufacturing Day event on October 7th. Measure the impact of your event by asking your participants to complete this survey and watch for the results on the Manufacturing Day Survey results site. Visit http://www.mfgday.com to learn more.


1Milken Institute and Economic Planning Institute
2The U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis
3National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), “Facts about Manufacturing
4Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute’s 2015 Skills Gap Study
5John Paul Williams, “How manufacturing can solve its own talent shortage crisis,” Industry Week, August 21, 2014.
6National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), “Facts about Manufacturing.”
7The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2015.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s