The manufacturing skills gap has been top of mind for machine shop owners for quite some time, with no sign of relief anytime soon.
One study predicts that if left on its current trajectory, this gap will leave 2.1 million manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2030. And although the pandemic left many Americans jobless, surveys show that hiring for manufacturing jobs is now 36% harder than it was in 2018.
There are many contributing factors to the manufacturing skills gap: the “silver tsunami” of baby boomers on the brink of retirement, outdated ideas about what it means to work in manufacturing, and even a change in life priorities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As manufacturing companies work to break down these barriers, there are a few key challenges that stand in their way.
Hiring Challenges Machine Shops Face
Spreading news about a job opening by word of mouth or waiting for someone to see the “we’re hiring” sign on your door may have worked in the past. But the days are gone when a prospect would show up at your shop’s doorstep, asking for a job.
It’s important that manufacturers keep up with the changing times and work to meet the needs of the current workforce. That means developing a recruiting strategy that uses modern platforms and technologies to attract the talent you’re looking for.
Appealing to younger generations.
High schools are notorious for under-promoting manufacturing careers to students. That means it’s up to machine shops to educate the next generation about the opportunities in manufacturing.
But finding the right messaging to appeal to Generation Z can be difficult. Whether you agree with it or not, young people today want more than just a paycheck. They want to feel a sense of purpose in their lives—including in their careers.
These young people may not even know they’re interested in machining yet. But shops with a good company culture that promotes values like collaboration and skills development have a better chance of grabbing their attention.
How NTMA Promotes Manufacturing Workforce Development
The National Tooling and Machining Association is committed to doing our part to help close the manufacturing skills gap. We offer education and training resources and engagement programs to promote workforce development across the country:
Advanced Manufacturing Practice & Education Development (AMPED). This 501(c)3 organization is dedicated to engaging, inspiring, and preparing America’s precision manufacturing workforce. AMPED is focused on promotion and recruitment activities, as well as directing interested parties to education programs across the country.
NTMA-U. The NTMA-U online training platform removes the obstacles of traditional classroom-based learning. The program provides both the related instruction for a machinist apprenticeship and specific incumbent worker training.
National Robotics League (NRL). The NRL challenges students to design and build remote controlled robots to face-off in a gladiator-style competition. Through hands-on experience and industry partnerships, students gain practical knowledge of essential skills in manufacturing and the benefits of working in industry.
Pre-apprenticeship program. The pre-apprenticeship program develops entry-level skills for employment at a manufacturing company and enhances the skills set for existing employees. The program, which includes in-depth online training courses and resource materials via NTMA-U, helps shops attract new talent in a cost-effective and flexible manner.
Mechanical Aptitude Test. NTMA‘s Mechanical Aptitude Test, developed in consultation with industry experts, assesses the understanding of basic mechanical principles, along with the applications of those principles to everyday shop situations. This test is appropriate for candidates that will work in a technical setting on and around manufacturing equipment.
The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). NIMS sets industry skills standards, certifies individual skills against the standards, accredits training programs that meet NIMS quality requirements, and promotes innovative solutions, such as competency-based apprenticeship, to connect credentialed and work-ready individuals with employers.
NTMA scholarship program. NTMA’s Foundation provides scholarships to deserving students pursuing degrees that will lead to manufacturing careers.
Closing the manufacturing skills gap isn’t going to be easy. But we won’t stop until the future of manufacturing is as bright as it once was. Join us in our mission and gain instant access to programs and opportunities to help grow your company.