Plant Engineering 2014 Workforce Development Study

According to the data in this report, 66% of manufacturing facilities are experiencing a skilled workforce shortage, and an average of 7% of jobs within plants are unfilled because of it. See what actions are being taken to close this gap and improve manufacturing's appeal to the younger generations.

Amanda Pelliccione
07/22/2014


In June 2014, more than 200 plant engineers and managers within the Plant Engineering audience responded to the 2014 Workforce Development study. The study asked key questions on the causes and effects of the lack of a skilled workforce in the U.S., what manufacturing plants are doing to combat this issue, and how facilities are establishing a positive relationship with their communities.

Plant Engineering sees the following six high-level findings to be important factors that are impacting the manufacturing industry today:

  1. Workforce shortage: Nearly two-thirds of respondents indicated a workforce shortage within their plants, and within those facilities, 7% of jobs are currently unfilled, on average. 63% agree that the shortage will only increase within the next three to five years.

  2. Causes: When asked about the primary cause of the workforce shortage within their plants, 68% said they are having trouble finding qualified applicants among the new workforce, and only 12% cited a lack of finances to seek workers and fill positions.

  3. Unskilled workforce: According to respondents, the younger workforce lacks project management (62%), engineering (53%), and team-building skills (48%), but they are quite proficient in computer skills (76%).

  4. Actions taken: In an effort to combat the shortage, 50% of plants have taken to online recruitment and 37% offer in-house training for less experienced applicants.

  5. Manufacturing’s image: Half of respondents don’t believe that manufacturing is portrayed as a positive career choice in the U.S. More than half agree that introducing manufacturing at an earlier education level, incorporating apprenticeship programs, and improved salaries, benefits, and job security would improve manufacturing’s image.

  6. Community outreach: Eight-one percent of respondents think their manufacturing plants are seen as positive lights in their respective communities, and more than 40% maintain this status by hosting or volunteering for local events and by being active members of their local Chamber of Commerce. 

Access the full Plant Engineering 2014 Workforce Development report with additional findings and insights.

Amanda Pelliccione is director of research at CFE Media,
Plant Engineering.

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