Solving the Manufacturing Skills Gap: 3 Tips to Retain a Skilled Workforce


It’s no secret that the increasing role of automation and advanced technologies is widening the manufacturing skills gap.

Companies who attract and retain skilled workers can gain a competitive edge in an industry that rewards productivity, efficiency, and quick turnaround times.

Issues around the future of the manufacturing workforce come into play when you consider the type of skills new jobs require.

As Industry 4.0 continues to grow, gone are the days of low-skill manufacturing work. Instead, manufacturing will become increasingly reliant on jobs ranging in education level from technical certifications to PhDs.

While there are many strategies and solutions offered for attracting a skilled workforce, the question becomes, “How can manufacturing companies retain and retrain top talent to meet the needs of changing industry roles?”

Solving the Manufacturing Skills Gap

It takes a significant investment of time and resources to scout and train skilled employees to operate sophisticated manufacturing equipment, so retaining those workers is often critical for continued productivity. According to the Manufacturing Institute, it takes a manufacturing company 70 days on average to recruit skilled workers. Further training and education around the customized equipment are often required, adding additional time before the new hires are up to speed.

Retaining skilled employees can also increase workplace safety, as workers who have been through extensive on-the-job training have more knowledge of the equipment and the company’s safety strategies.

Below is a look at some strategies to help manufacturers not only attract skilled workers but retain and effectively equip them for continued success with the company:

1. Establish Partnerships With Educational Institutions

As manufacturing becomes more competitive and automation integrates into the process, the needs of the industry are moving toward a “middle-skill” career path. Thus, it is imperative that manufacturing companies build strong partnerships with their local educational avenues to help create manufacturing’s workforce future.

For example, some manufacturers and economic development companies are fueling their talent pipeline through partnerships with universities, technical colleges, nonprofits, and local school districts. These partnerships typically provide students with manufacturing technical skills, while connecting them with local manufacturing companies to build relationships and obtain hands-on instruction.

2. Consider Tuition Reimbursement

Tuition reimbursement can go a long way in helping employees feel valued. Investing in employees’ educational growth illustrates the manufacturing company’s vested interest in their future career path and success, which can be very appealing to prospective talent.

Utilizing a tuition reimbursement program can also help ensure that a manufacturing facility has the right type of skills in place to help keep productivity at optimal levels. Ultimately, helping existing employees increase their skill set through education can translate into bottom-line benefits for business operations.

3. Provide Continuous Safety Training

Designing and adhering to safety programs can help engage your workforce and provide a safer, more stress-free environment. Having plans and strategies in place for crises, equipment malfunctions, and other situations are critical to maintaining a productive and seamless working environment, which can equate to a happier workforce.

Manufacturers need to advocate for more effective communication and continuing education of the workforce. The staff should be trained on the importance of safety, best practices, and any core processes used to proactively identify potential risks in the supply chain.

Retaining Workers to Maintain a Competitive Edge

Losing an employee can significantly impact a manufacturing business through lost time, interrupted processes, and increased resources spent recruiting replacement talent. Manufacturing companies should plan now and implement new strategies to retain the current workforce in an effort to curb the manufacturing skills gap. Proactively investing in on-the-job training and safety, educational partnerships, and tuition reimbursement programs can poise manufacturers for continued success and even offer a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Help Solve the Skills Gap

The workforce skills gap has many industries on edge while communities and educational institutions are scrambling to renew interest in manufacturing careers. The Midlothian Workforce/Careers Scholarship Fund aims to help fuel this interest, readying a skilled workforce for a successful career with industry partners in Midlothian.

In partnership with local industry, Midlothian Economic Development (MED) is contributing initial funding to the TSTC Foundation’s Texan Success Scholarship to advance technical education and help fuel the community’s talent pipeline.

Contribute to the Scholarship Today!

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