Tackling the Manufacturing Workforce Shortage

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There has been a significant change to the California manufacturing landscape over the last ten years. This includes changes to the type of manufacturing conducted to the continued shortage of skilled workers needed to fill vacant positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently reported there are 330,000 unfilled jobs nationwide. The cause of the shortage appears to be a combination of retirements, lack of interest from young professionals, and the movement of many operations overseas. The worker shortage, combined with the fast-paced development of new technologies, has forced many companies to evaluate training programs to help solve the problem. According to the Manufacturing Institute Training Survey, 70% of manufacturers have expanded training programs to help remediate worker issues. In addition, 75% found that upskilling has improved worker productivity. To help clients, prospects, and others, JLK Rosenberger has provided a summary of key findings from the survey below.

Key Survey Findings

  • Managing the Skills Shortage – The survey wanted to identify the various tactics companies are using to manage the skills shortage. According to the study, 69% are creating or expanding internal training programs, 67% are increasing the existing workforce hours, 58% are turning to temporary staffing agencies, 55% are working with educational institutions on creating certification programs, 34% are encouraging retirement-age employees to stay longer, and 13.2% are considering the option of moving to a different location.
  • Training Programs – As companies focus on training integration, it’s essential to understand what type of programs are adopted. According to the survey, 78.8% are using internal training, 67% on the job training, 63% integrating external training, 56% using online education, 32% apprenticeship, and 9% reverse mentorship (where younger employees mentor older colleagues). Companies are also relying on coaching, personal growth plans, safety training, and tuition reimbursement.
  • Training Program Focus – The type of programs offered only tell half the story because program focus reveals where manufacturers experience the most value. According to the survey, 84% focus on job skills and technical training, 82% on cross-functional training, 70% on new technology or equipment training, 59% on professional development, 46% on soft skills training, and 25% on formal mentoring programs.
  • Driving Program Participation – Offering access to targeted education and training is only half the battle as companies need to find ways to encourage program participation. According to the survey, 65% rely on supervisor outreach, 63% tuition assistance programs, 50% information and education about existing offerings, 40% formal workplace recognition, 18% career planning services, and 10% take no steps to encourage program participation.
  • Influence on Employee Careers – While the additional training and education are suitable for the company to diversify skillset and abilities, it’s also important to understand the impact on an employee’s career. According to the survey, 74% have experienced higher productivity, 67% have moved into supervisory roles, 64% improved employee morale, 48% have extended the longevity of their career, and 38% have facilitated recruitment efforts. In addition, some respondents also identified that training has led to compensation increases and reduction of machine downtime.
  • Workforce Training Challenges – Although it appears there are significant benefits to implementing these programs, it’s important to note they are not without challenges. According to the survey, 74% identified interrupting work hours as a challenge, 59% scheduling, 45% cost, 43% linking training to job tasks, 32% finding appropriate course materials, and 16% not getting supervisor buy-in.
Contact Us

The worker shortage is a challenge that California manufacturing companies will continue to face. However, it’s interesting to understand how many are addressing it with training to upskill workers. If you have questions about the survey data or need assistance with a tax or audit issue, JLK Rosenberger can help. For additional information, call us at 949-860-9902 or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.