Analysis: U.S. Manufacturers Having Trouble Finding Qualified Employees

Date: April 12, 2016

Economic Uncertainty Also Leaving Business Owners Wary Of Hiring


Although a new CNN Money analysis suggests the US manufacturing sector is strong, adding approximately 838,000 jobs since 2010, there is growing concern among business owners about finding the right people for skilled positions. While industry insiders say “jobs are out there and many pay well,” CNN finds that employers are signaling that “they are having a hard time filling positions” and are facing the prospect of losing 3 million employees to retirement in the next decade. According to Reshoring Initiative founder Harry Moser, companies have been slow to return positions to the US following the recession in part due to the “huge shortage in skilled workers.” This is partially because unlike the “high-volume, commodity production” jobs available decades ago in the manufacturing sector, more advanced skills are often required for these jobs, as workers craft everything from artificial knees to airplane parts. Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, notes that employers have a more difficult time finding workers than in years past, when “the majority of manufacturing positions required only a high school degree,” because current positions “need advanced training and skills, such as a proficiency in math and problem solving, as well as technical expertise with certain machines.” Community colleges and private training centers are working “to fill the gaps” in skills, CNN says, with companies increasingly working to create coursework with local colleges to prepare students for high-demand manufacturing jobs. However, such plans will take time to grow a solid base of skilled workers.

What This Means For Small Businesses

This latest analysis showing weakness in hiring in the manufacturing sector coincides with the latest NFIB Small Business Employment Report, which showed that few jobs were added at US small businesses in March. This was especially true of businesses in the manufacturing sector, pointing to continued uncertainty among small business owners.

Additional Reading

Forbes examines the 10 manufacturing and logistics positions where workers experienced the largest average pay increases in 2015.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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