Manufacturers Among Leaders of Job Creation, yet Lack Next-Generation Workforce


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The good news is that manufacturing hiring was up in 2012, with more growth projected for 2013 and 2014. The bad news is there isn’t enough trained, skilled laborers in the American workforce to fill the available jobs.

According to a new hiring report from the Society for Human Resource Development (SHRM) , its Leading Indicators of National Employment shows (specifically regarding manufacturing employment, recruiting and compensation) the following stats:
• 42.2 percent of manufacturers plan to hire in the near future
• Projected on an annual basis—January 2013 compared with January 2012—manufacturing hiring is expected to grow by a net of 6 percent
• 17.2 percent more manufacturers said it was more difficult to fill key manufacturing jobs than it was a year ago
• The pay for new hires in manufacturing averaged 1.7 percent higher than it did a year ago
In Michigan alone, 16,000 new manufacturing jobs were added in 2012.  Ten thousand new job openings are expected in 2013 and 9,000 in 2014, according to a recent report by University of Michigan economist George Fulton.

Specifically, auto parts suppliers who currently employ about 476,000 people in the U.S. are expected to add about 44,000 jobs this year, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. An additional 17,000 jobs are forecast between 2014 and 2016.

By the end of this year, the automotive supplier sector will employ a projected 520,000 workers in the U.S. That’s the first time supplier jobs will exceed 500,000 since 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Additionally, a survey by the Original Equipment Suppliers Association published in early January, found that 80 percent of suppliers, compared with 76 percent last year, are worried they will have to spend much more on overtime.

Just less than three-fourths of suppliers are concerned they will have a shortage of skilled labor, compared with 59 percent in 2012; and 61 percent are concerned their internal capacity won’t be enough, compared with 54 percent in the 2011 survey.

There are a lot of job opportunities now and into the foreseeable future, within the manufacturing sector.  One group of forward-thinking business and community leaders is Talent 2025, located in West Michigan. Formed in 2009 when it became apparent to local businesses, many of them manufacturers, that the approaching retirement of baby boomers will create demand that outpaces the supply of skilled workers, its goal is to increase its region’s skilled, credentialed workforce.  The group currently has 60 business leaders representing more than 75,000 employees.

According to President Kevin Stotts, the CEO-led group, created Talent 2025 as a process to identify gaps in education, evaluate solutions and through programs led by its members, advocate for leading practices to improve the talent development system in their region. A main goal is to make talent development more certain, uniform and predictable.

To measure its success, Talent 2025 has created a dashboard on its website, talent205.org, that measures seven key areas the group is measuring to track and evaluate the success and impact of their programs.  The metric’s measured range from early childhood development to adult workforce and globally competitive workforce metrics.

One of their earliest successes was creating a reverse degree attainment program, which helps students who have their education interrupted. Degree attainment is one of the core pieces of data looked at by the state and federal governments regarding the education level of a regions residents. Reverse transfers mean that students can combine credits earned at a community college with credits earned at their transfer university to earn an associate’s degree. If someone had completed 2 or 3 years of coursework and experiences an interruption in their education, they will still earn a degree with their coursework instead of not having a credential to show for their work.

Without the reverse transfer option, students would not be able to experience the boost to their employability and promotion prospects they earn when they receive a degree.