The manufacturing skills gap describes two things, according to an interview conducted by IndustryWeek: a shortage of manufacturing skills, and a lack of skilled workers in the right cities. What this means is that job openings could go unfilled for months or even years — unless you find creative ways to overcome that skills gap and find, train or create the professionals you need. Here are seven tips to get you started.
1: Identify necessary skills
There's a difference between necessary skills and ideal skills. Because of the manufacturing skills gap, the definitions of each are changing — so it will benefit you and your teams to identify which skills are crucial and which are more of a luxury. You may not end up with the perfect candidate, but you will end up with applicants who are eager for an opportunity to learn.
2: Offer internship opportunities
Internship opportunities can help you reach, teach and encourage high school and college students who have an interest in manufacturing — and possibly those who will but don't yet realize it. Through internships, students can learn necessary skills to succeed in the manufacturing industry. When it comes time to apply for a full-time position, these interns are that much more likely to reach out to your company.
3: Work with local educators
Another student-centered approach to the manufacturing skills gap is to work with community educators and local colleges to create courses, degrees or certificate programs that fulfill the industry's needs. Having an expert on hand helps educators create curriculum that will, in turn, create skilled manufacturing workers.
4: Strengthen your training processes
Potential employees don't have to walk through your doors knowing every little skill. Remember, your internal processes can address the skills gap through on-the-job training, classes and mentorship from existing employees.
5: Consider digital solutions
Although not all manufacturing positions lend themselves to the digital world, that reality is quickly shifting. According to Deloitte, manufacturing roles are changing to include digital solutions like automation, artificial intelligence and remote work. These options keep manufacturing companies flexible and can be especially helpful for addressing the geographical skills gap.
6: Recruit workers from all backgrounds
By actively working to train and recruit workers from backgrounds not traditionally represented in manufacturing — for example, encouraging more women to engage with the industry, as explained by Modern Materials Handling — you'll get access to new perspectives, ideas and potential applicants. You'll also be addressing the skills gap at its source and creating long-term solutions for your company.
7: Update your own processes
Part of the manufacturing skills gap exists because today's students are learning primarily digital processes, while many manufacturing companies continue to do the bulk of their work in the physical world. Updating your processes to include as many savvy applications of technology as possible will help attract applicants and, slowly but surely, begin to close the skills gap.