Manufacturing is Resurging but Struggling to Fill Roles

Manufacturing is Resurging

Over the past few decades, many politicians have promised to bring manufacturing back to the United States. Ironically, it’s not a politician that has helped make that a reality, but rather, a global pandemic. With lessons learned from offshoring, increasing numbers of manufacturers are returning their operations to U.S. soil. U.S. manufacturing operations grew by more than 11 percent from 2019 to 2023. While that’s a move hailed by many in the supply chain, many of those companies face a hurdle that it can’t find people interested in working in the sector.

A recent report by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte says that by 2033, manufacturers could need up to 3.8 million new workers. However, in today’s labor market, those same companies might face gaps as high as 1.9 million. If manufacturers are to succeed at the levels they hope, they must make a concerted effort to address that gap.

In some ways, the type of manufacturing jobs that may be most in demand stand as good news. There’s been a massive jump in demand for simulation and simulation software skills. With GenZ making its way into the workforce, roles like these—rather than traditional manual labor on a manufacturing floor—hold far more appeal. There will also be increased demand for machinery maintenance technicians and roles like semiconductor-processing technicians, electronics, and electromechanical assemblers.

While the more technical aspect of today’s and tomorrow’s manufacturing jobs might appeal to GenZ, there’s more to keeping them happy and in their jobs. Flexibility in scheduling and the ability to work at least partially remotely remains in high demand with this age group. This generation is also struggling to find affordable childcare, so companies have an opportunity here to offer subsidies or even on-site childcare as a competitive perk. Benefits, including generous parental leave, are also high on this generation’s “want” list, as is solid healthcare. You can also do well by providing employees with digital tools for their workday—devices like tablets and phones work well with these digital natives, especially when it affords them autonomy in their roles.

Additionally, GenZ isn’t content with staying static in their roles. Once you’ve hired them, retention will be your next difficult task. This is where training and upskilling can prove their mettle. Establish internal training programs to help your staff learn new technologies and skills.

Meeting your future employees where they are is a good first step to recruiting and retention. If you’re in manufacturing, there’s no time like the present to begin considering attracting the younger generation to the industry.

Finally, look for non-traditional partners in your efforts to fill jobs and keep them full. Community colleges, for instance, can be excellent recruiting grounds, as can local community organizations. Groups that might have been left out of the traditional workforce might surprise you with what they can bring to the table, and it’s well worth your time to explore those avenues.