How will you get ahead at your job?

Studies point to manufacturing jobs as highly technical and secure. But how can you stay ahead?

By Amara Rozgus February 28, 2023
Courtesy: CFE Media and Technology

According to the most recent Plant Engineering salary survey, 50% of respondents have worked for their current employer fewer than 15 years, with 19% reporting they’d worked for their current employer less than 5 years. When compared to a similar question asked 10 years ago about the time a respondent has worked in his current position, only one-third indicated they’d been in the position fewer than 19 years.

The workforce has become more apt to change jobs in the past decade, which points to several things:

  • Changing jobs is the primary way to earn more money. A Pew Research Center study looked at this during the COVID-19 pandemic, and continues to study the trend.

  • The management culture is more employee-focused, and it’s up to the employer to keep the employees happy.

  • Work-life balance is a requirement for Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012).

  • A lack of challenges on the job causes people to leave. Employees also want to have the opportunity for a promotion in their position.

  • Company loyalty, common across all industries, has dissipated.

What makes people stick around? Most respondents (83%) viewed manufacturing jobs as secure. Overall, the unemployment level is low and compensation is pretty high. For example, the average base annual salary for those who work 40 to 44 hours per week is approximately $99,000 before bonuses. That number tracks with the 50% of respondents who have been with their employer fewer than 15 years; these survey respondents earned $100,779 before bonuses.

Financial compensation is nearly equal to the top two factors that have the greatest impact on job satisfaction. Plant Engineering salary survey participants said they wanted:

  • Technical challenge: 29%

  • Feeling of accomplishment: 28%

  • Financial compensation: 27%.

The industry continues to surge ahead, and surpass labor expectations. But, like many industries, manufacturing jobs are going unfilled. Not seen as “sexy,” people are going to school to learn skills unrelated to manufacturing — business ranks No. 1, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. A 2021 study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute pointed to the 2.1 million manufacturing jobs that will go unfilled by 2030.

The salary survey respondents flagged many of the skills that various studies also highlight. To enhance their jobs, 71% of Plant Engineering respondents indicated they needed engineering skills to get ahead in their profession. Close behind were business skills, including project management (70%), communication/presentation (54%) and computer (53%).

Where do manufacturing jobs go from here? Both the Deloitte and Plant Engineering studies called out the need for additional training, much of which leads to digital transformation within a business. Because 41% of salary survey respondents said there were fewer than 100 employees at their location, that implies there is a lot of opportunity for growth, training and changes at these smaller facilities.

Author Bio: Amara Rozgus is the Editor-in-Chief/Content Strategy Leader