Manufacturing’s Talent Gap
Twenty five years ago labor experts warned employers about an impending shortage in the skilled manufacturing workforce caused by the soon-to-be-departing baby boomers. Almost no one listened.
Those few employers who did realized preparation meant investing in training. Investment = money so many employers put it off, especially during the Great Recession of 2008 – 2010.
So here we are America … needing to fill 3.5 million manufacturing jobs in the next 10 years, according to the Deloitte publication, “The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing 2015 & Beyond.”
Deloitte opines that we’ll be lucky to fill 1.5 million of those openings, leaving a gap of 2 million jobs. This potential shortfall didn’t go unnoticed by Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), a manufacturer of class 5-8 commercial vehicles, school buses, and heavy-duty to mid-range diesel engines. The company saw this bullet coming years ago.
To those in the know, the skilled workforce shortage conundrum isn’t new. As far back as 1990, the National Center on Education and the Economy identified this job shortfall in its report, “The American Workforce – America’s Choice: High Skills or Low Wages,” stating large investments in training were needed to prepare for the slow workforce growth.
If you look at the burgeoning skills gap, coupled with vanishing high school vocational programs, how, as an employer, do you recruit potential candidates?
To not address the millennials’ employer predilections is to miss an opportunity to tap into a vast resource of potential talent.
DTNA addresses the issue by reaching out to high schools throughout the U.S. via the Daimler Educational Outreach Program, which focuses on giving to qualified organizations that support public high school educational programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), CTE (career technical education), and skilled trades’ career development.
Daimler also works in concert with school districts to conduct week-long technology schools in one of the manufacturing facilities, all in an effort to encourage students to consider manufacturing (either skilled or technical) as a vocation.
Like all forward-looking companies, Daimler must address the needs of the millennials who – among a number of their desires – want to make the world a better place. Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer for the Intelligence Group notes that 86 million millennials will be in the workplace by 2020 — representing 40 percent of the total working population.
To not address the millennials’ employer predilections is to miss an opportunity to tap into a vast resource of potential talent. To that end, Daimler has always emphasized research in renewable resources and community involvement as well as a number of philanthropic endeavors. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also appeals to the much-needed next generation who will fill the boots of the exiting boomers.
Just because a company manufactures heavy-duty commercial vehicles doesn’t mean it can’t give back to the environment and the community at large. And, in the end, that will help make the world a better place.