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Four Ways to Patch the Skilled Workforce Gap

Category: Smartforce Mar 13, 2019

Help wanted? Yes! But the right help in the right places. Manufacturers increasingly need skilled workers to fill critical positions.

Manufacturers are already paying higher wages, offering signing bonuses, outsourcing, and using flexible hiring requirements. But these efforts only go so far to bridge the widening gap between the number of open positions and the number of qualified workers. Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute and industry experts propose new approaches to address the skills gap.

  1. Start young
    Focus on Generation Z (those born mid-1990s to 2012). “The next wave in our workforce is dedicated to technology and social media, and passionate about diversity,” HM Manufacturing President and CEO Nicole Wolter explained. “This is a generation with high expectations and aspirations, but they are willing to work hard for the right company.”  Her firm offers internships to sophomores in high school and is involved with STEP Forward, a part of Manufacturing Institute’s larger STEP Ahead initiative, a program designed to empower women in science, technology, engineering, and production (STEP) careers. Consider inviting students from elementary to high schools to the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2020.
  2. Share your company’s culture
    Identify and promote your company’s personality and principles. Young people care about a company’s values. Knowing what your firm stands for helps young people easily relate to where your firm stands in his or her big-picture view.
  3. Increase automation
    Automation doesn’t kill jobs; it fills low-skill jobs. Cobots and robotic process automation can perform routine manufacturing tasks. This leaves employees free to work in other areas, perform more complex tasks, and even learn new skill sets, such as programming cobots and robots.
  4. Establish in-house apprenticeship and mentor programs
    Sometimes the best ideas aren’t new at all. Apprenticeship programs may pre-date the Industrial Revolution, but they work. Pairing students with skilled tradespeople is a powerful tool that manufacturers can use to find employees who are both productive and engaged.

    "Our Mentor/Mentee program is designed to accelerate the mentee earning potential and their skills so they can begin working independently on complex machines and projects," says Major Machine & Tool ​President Mike Griffith. “We are also rewarding our mentors through additional compensation."

Are you doing any of the above? Share your experience at

Some information adapted from 2018 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute Skills Gap and Future of Work Study. To read the full report, visit this link.         

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