American manufacturing companies cannot fill as many as 600,000 skilled positions – even as unemployment numbers hover at historic levels – according to a new survey from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.
The survey, “Boiling Point? The skills gap in U.S. manufacturing,” polled a nationally representative sample of 1,123 executives at manufacturing companies recently and revealed that 5% of current manufacturing jobs are unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates.
Here is an excerpt from the report:
"As many U.S. manufacturers look to regain momentum, they will likely face some well-documented challenges. Not least among these is the issue of talent. This is not new – for years, manufacturers have reported a significant gap between the talent they need to keep growing their businesses and what they can actually find. Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute have renewed the Skills Gap study, conducted in July and August, 2011, seeking to answer several important questions about the nature of the skills and talent gaps in manufacturing today:
- What impact is the skills gap having on company performance?
- Although the skills gap issue isn’t new, how is it evolving in the face of continued economic and competitive challenges? Which manufacturing jobs are being affected the most?
- What does the future of talent look like? What upcoming trends are companies preparing for today? How fast are these changes happening?
This report seeks to address the questions posed above and provides an overview of the issues facing manufacturers today. Subsequent studies will focus on specific issues such as training and education, talent management, and community collaboration.
Overall, our survey findings are remarkably consistent with previous Skills Gap studies, with 67% of respondents reporting a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers and 56% anticipating the shortage to grow worse in the next three to five years. In addition, our survey indicates that 5% of current jobs at respondent manufacturers are unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates. These results underscore the tenacity of a worsening talent shortage that threatens the future effectiveness of the U.S. manufacturing industry. When asked to look ahead three to five years, respondents indicate that access to a highly skilled, flexible workforce is the most important factor in their effectiveness, ranked above factors such as new product innovation and increased market share by a margin of 20 percentage points. It’s not just that manufacturers are concerned about talent today. This has been a serious issue for years, which begs the question of what must be done differently in order to achieve the right results.
It doesn’t help that today the skills gap is hitting where it hurts the most. Manufacturers are having the hardest time filling skilled production jobs that fuel their ability to innovate and grow, even in the face of high unemployment. By that same token, their efforts to develop the skills of current employees are falling short. Meanwhile, the manufacturing industry itself is evolving at such a rapid clip that companies are putting themselves at risk of falling behind too far, too fast."
Read the complete report, Boiling Point? The skills gap in U.S. manufacturing