The right strategies can strengthen manufacturing

Manufacturing automation Manufacturing jobs are ‘tough to fill’ and stand out as the weak spot in the employment picture
CNBC - Jan 10, 2020

Manufacturing jobs remain hard to fill, as the industry continues to struggle with a skills gap, despite coping with a slowdown amid the pressure of the U.S.-China tariff battle. The sector’s hire rate was down more than 18% in the past year, although the overall U.S. employment picture showed solid job growth. There were 477,000 open positions within manufacturing as of October 2019, down less than 5% from the previous year’s level, according to the Labor Department’s most recent data.

The CNBC report noted that it’s more a case of manufacturers having a hard time filling positions that require a better trained, more skilled workforce. “The gap that I see today are those looking for jobs [who] don’t have the skills for the jobs available,” said Steve Rosen, CEO of Resilience Capital Partners, an investment firm that owns a diversified portfolio of manufacturers. Rosen is still optimistic about the future. “I know we want to continue to create more meaningful employment. It’s good for our country and it’s wonderful for our communities,” he said, citing a low unemployment rate and an economy that is doing fairly well.

Grant Thornton’s View Jeff French
Jeff French

The Manufacturing industry continues to face challenges, yet smart manufacturers are positioning themselves for long-term success through strategies that include technologies and automation, and also reposition the industry to be attractive to younger, highly skilled talent – such as partnering with community and technical colleges. We will not fix the talent issue overnight, as a perception of “manufacturing” as a tedious assembly-line job still persists. Yet manufacturing has become high-tech and specialized. Manufacturing is always looking for ways to attract talent, improve performance, recognize cost levers that drive value in plants, and identify methods to maximize the bottom line. It remains one of the largest industries in the United States and is very important to U.S. employment health, as manufacturing positions provide relatively high pay and benefits.