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How to Solve the Skills Gap in Manufacturing

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
How to Solve the Skills Gap in Manufacturing

The skills gap is a huge problem in many industries across the U.S., but is especially prominent in the manufacturing industry. The Manufacturing Institute reports that the average U.S. manufacturer is potentially losing 11% (EBITA) or $3,000 per existing employee due to the talent shortage. Solving the skills gap may seem like a herculean endeavor, but Gardner Carrick of the Manufacturing Institute is optimistic.

He cites efforts at the state and local level intended to provide young people with practical, hands-on training. “We’re pleased to see that states are really picking up on how to expand or improve the number of citizens in their state who have earned the credentials they need to be successful in the workplace,” he said.
Businesses are also finding and implementing best practices that help counteract the gap.

Focus on Opportunities, Not Deficiencies

During the interview process, it is easy to look at a potential candidate and identify all of their deficiencies. After all, you know what the position entails and what minimum set of skills a person needs to fill it. However, it might be helpful to keep a broader perspective into what that candidate brings to the table. While they may not have all of the skills you need immediately, they may bring to the table a different set of skills that helps grow the position. Consider deferring some of the position’s tasks to other employees who have the skills needed, while giving the new employee responsibilities that dovetail with their skillset, which will in turn give them time to get up to speed in the areas they are deficient.

Employee Development

Successful training programs help employees not only strengthen the skills they do have, but also allows them to build on current abilities and to learn new skills, setting them up for advancement and growth.

Promote Within First

Skills build on skills, and employees who already work for a company are often the best candidates to fill upper level positions. It is much easier to train employees who already have a foundation in how a company operates, as well as innate understanding of the corporate culture and processes, than to train someone brand new. Instead, bring in new staff at more junior levels. It is much easier to find people who can work in entry level positions than senior ones.

Create a Training Strategy

Before turning a potential high-performer away because he or she lacks one of the skills needed for a position, consider putting together a development program that includes individualized training so employees can strengthen and build on existing skills. Intensive training in one particular skill area may be all that is needed to get some of them up to speed to step into hard-to-fill positions.


Networking is a critical tool that can help a company tap into resources for finding skilled employees. While it may not be prudent to reach out to competitors, it may make sense to reach out to companies with similar positions. Also think about networking with recruiters who have experience finding people with a specific skill set.

Get to Work on Solving the Skills Gap

The skills gap is a struggle for many companies, but it doesn’t have to be for everyone. Start working on closing the skills gap with current employees, training programs, and networking. 

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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