One of the lesser-expected impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is the country’s manufacturing widening skills gap that will leave 2.1 million U.S. jobs unfilled this year. By 2030, this figure will increase to 6 million.
Manufacturers added 916,000 jobs last April, but employers cannot find the workers to fill their open positions partly because national factory production activity hit a 37-year high in March. In an ultra-competitive environment, it’s essential that you are on top of your labor game. Below are three key areas to address first.
Make sure your wages and benefits match or beat the current market standards. The average manufacturing job pays $16 per hour, still higher than food service, retail, or hotel industry jobs. But given that the minimum wage could increase to $15 in some states, you may need to plan for higher wages. Companies that can offer higher wages, specialized training, and job security are especially appealing to those anxious to get back to work.
Double down on your investment in recruiting and training. Historically, companies relied on trade associations for access to a large group of trained labor applicants. Today, these groups are less influential, and that means that revving up your recruiting machine is essential. One opportunity is to look at the collegiate class of 2020 that has 45% of grads still looking for work. The onus is now on employers to provide comprehensive on-the-job training and re-skilling, and the ones that do have a greater ability to manage labor shortages over the long term.
Improve your labor-management analytics. In the past decade, most manufacturing and distribution companies used historical analysis for labor management at one-week or one-month intervals. But in an increasingly competitive market, when workers are not showing up for a shift or leaving early, it’s more important than ever to get near-real-time insights on what’s happening on the production floor. Many companies have clock-in and payroll systems, but they are not connected to other systems that provide a full picture of same-day or same-week labor activity. Data integration and business intelligence solutions are increasingly essential to leverage the full power of your workforce in the coming years.