This blog is the fourth in a monthly series brought to you by the America Works initiative. As a part of the MEP National Network’s goal of supporting the growth of small and medium-sized manufacturing companies, this series focuses on innovative approaches, and uncovering the latest trends in manufacturing workforce development.
Growing up, my parents used to always joke that we needed a money tree to provide endless funding for my many expensive tastes.
Today, American manufacturers joke that they need a “skilled workers tree,” where they can endlessly grow qualified workers to fill their open advanced manufacturing roles. We know from a recent Deloitte study that American manufacturers will need 2.1 million qualified workers by 2030. And this shortage will only grow worse, as 69% of manufacturers are looking to re-shore production to North America.
Given that we can’t manufacture smart, motivated workers – at least, not yet! – how can America’s small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) fill their open positions?
In lieu of some genetic wizardry that magically develops that elusive “skilled workers tree,” one answer is to redirect our efforts away from workforce development to instead focus on workplace development. In addition to a focus on attraction and recruitment, American manufacturers must also focus on keeping and cultivating the workers they already have. There is an urgent need to improve our people development systems to a point where our efforts to attract, train, and retain people create an environment that values people for their personalities and qualities, not just their productivity.
In the workforce world, we would typically call this becoming an “employer of choice.” Accomplishing this lofty goal has always been the result of a deliberate and holistic strategy that ensures your current workers feel a sense of belonging and purpose. In today’s environment, these are fast becoming the expectation of high-quality talent. A business will know they have reached that legendary “employer of choice” status when they see improved metrics related directly to their people, such as increased productivity, reduced waste, and lower absenteeism and turnover. You’ll see it in your teams too. This type of environment will also help to unleash the whole team’s creativity and problem-solving capabilities, improving the organization’s overall competitiveness. At companies like these, not only do employees think twice before quitting, but they become active ambassadors and recruiters for their employer.
Currently, MEP Centers nationwide offer a wide range of consulting and hands-on assistance to help manufacturers turn their cultures into a competitive advantage. America Works, with its four goals designed to strengthen the MEP National Network’s workforce development efforts, will launch an internal discussion node this fall devoted to sharing best practices in this exact area. Across the Network, MEP Centers are actively working with SMMs to strengthen all aspects of their internal environments, including:
Manufacturers struggling to recruit and retain workers need not fight this battle alone, when help is just one phone call or email away. Across the country, MEP Centers are tackling worker retention through a wide variety of offerings such as:
So, if you want to better retain your workers, stop paying for classified ads, social media posts and expensive staffing agencies. Instead, contact your local MEP Center and start focusing on workplace development today.
It’s a lot easier than growing that fabled skilled worker tree.