Building The Manufacturing Workforce of The Future
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

A significant skills gap presently exists in many industries, including manufacturing. The future will only bring even more need, along with inevitable change. In 2022, Ernst and Young (EY) and The Manufacturing Institute collaborated with manufacturing industry leaders to identify and develop ways to address this gap now and into the future. This study identified that leaders strongly agreed on the following:

  • 74% said that the skills needed for manufacturing jobs are rapidly changing.
  • 65% indicated that the skills needed for manufacturing jobs are changing faster than the skill level of the workforce.
  • 65% said their organization struggles to fill job openings due to the quickly changing skills required for industry.
  • 82% indicated that their organizations are seeking new and innovative ways to invest in the careers of their employees.

Furthermore, this same study identified five primary and three additional manufacturing skills required for individuals and organizations to succeed in preparing for the upcoming transformation.  The five primary skills are:

  • Analytical Acumen – The ability to understand current efforts and apply data-driven and lean decision-making to improve efficiency and solve problems.
  • Business Acumen – Having a firm understanding of business goals and operations.
  • Creative Reasoning – Being able to solve problems with creative solutions.
  • Learning Agility – The ability to understand and learn effectively.
  • Resilience – The ability to recover quickly from setbacks.

The three additional adaptive skills relevant to manufacturing include:

  • Root Cause Analysis – The ability to identify underlying conditions creating issues with a machine, process, or system.
  • Social and Emotional Intelligence – The ability to effectively manage interpersonal relations and connect with others to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Systems Thinking – The ability to break complexity down into the interrelationships between the parts that allow for the isolation and identification of challenges and opportunities.

These skills make up the basis for creating a workforce of the future. The study concludes with four key strategies for all companies and manufacturers. The first strategy is to infuse the critical skills above into the organization’s overall talent strategy.  Second, companies need to create necessary new career pathways important to future opportunities and challenges identified. Third, the study says to create an adaptive organizational culture anchored in a common purpose and to leverage leaders and influencers to bring about identified changes. And finally, invest heavily in development opportunities for each employee that focuses on collaborative learning and trades skills acquisition.

Much can be learned by a review of this study by EY and The Manufacturing Institute as companies prepare to build their workforce strategy for the skills needed for future success. I am convinced every company needs to place an increased effort on skills acquisition and development among their existing and future workforce. At MACNY, we help members create customized strategies to fill workforce skills gaps and build apprenticeship and certification approaches. Please let us know how we can help you be successful in your ongoing efforts by contacting [email protected].