In the coming decade, it's projected that manufacturers, including small business manufacturers, will have about 3.5 million job openings. But as many as 2 million of those jobs will stay vacant. Why? Lack of skills.
Despite the prevalence of smartphones and video games and use of social media among today's students, few people are prepared to take on positions as automation engineers and technicians.
Overcoming the skills gap is a critical mission for manufacturers and educators. Maybe school districts shouldn't be cutting industrial arts programs from the budgets.
Not everyone agrees there is a real skills gap crisis. In Why the skills gap does not exist by Cait Murphy in Inc. magazine she says employers can work with community colleges and provide more in-house training.
An opposite view comes from James Bessen writing in the Harvard Business Review: Employers Aren't Just Whining, the Skills Gap is Real. He cites a practical reason:
new technologies frequently require specific new skills that schools don’t teach and that labor markets don’t supply. Since information technologies have radically changed much work over the last couple of decades, employers have had persistent difficulty finding workers who can make the most of these new technologies.
Manufacturers are getting involved with their local universities to give input on the skills needed in industrial automation like automation engineers and technicians. Read Closing the Skills Gap in Automation: A Call for Action.
Don't fret a skills gap in your company whether you're a manufacturer or major service provider. Here are a few things you can do:
- Provide a positive work-environment so your employees become word-of-mouth job connectors for the type of workers you're seeking
- Connect with a local community college or university department and review the skills levels of graduates
- Set up a quarterly or bi-monthly training to keep your current employees sharp
- Speak with local job recruiters and get their feedback as they scan the job horizon
Don't be afraid to begin using new technologies in your company to make it function more efficiently and profitably.