The talent shortage and skills gap has reached a critical level for manufacturing companies. Attracting and retaining a quality workforce was one of the top two business challenges in a recent NAM Outlook Survey, cited by 80% of respondents. Even before the pandemic, manufacturers found it difficult to attract and retain qualified workers. Driving factors include an aging workforce and resulting retirements, changing skill requirements driven by advanced technology, a lack of awareness among students and parents of the career opportunities available in manufacturing, and company talent management processes that have not adapted to the new realities of the labor market. In this environment, manufacturers need to strengthen and optimize every aspect of their talent management.
Successful companies get superior business results by doing two simple things exceptionally well:
The MEP National NetworkTM offers an extensive range of workforce services and resources that address every stage of the employee lifecycle. Services include talent assessment and planning, attraction and recruitment, training and development for production workers as well as leadership, employee engagement and retention, and more broadly creating an effective organizational culture to become an employer of choice.
While each MEP Center’s manufacturing training programs – which include services offered through partnerships with other workforce and training organizations – are tailored to their specific region, the Network offers support in each of the areas described below.
Improving organizational performance is a top priority for manufacturers and nearly impossible to do without a properly trained workforce. It can be hard to know where to focus your resources with so many workforce challenges. The MEP National Network offers a holistic approach to help manufacturers overcome workforce challenges through a systematic process. This process generally begins with a formal or informal assessment to understand your goals, challenges and gaps.
Your company’s ability to fill open positions is critical to its long-term success as a reliable supplier to your customers. MEP Centers can support your hiring needs with knowledge of workforce development and training programs offered.
Examples of ways MEP Centers can help include:
MEP Centers can help with training and skills development for manufacturing workers and supervisors, from creating a structured onboarding process for new employees to developing skills among your current employees. We will assess your needs and organizational goals and help develop a program that is specific to your company and its needs.
By focusing on training and skills development from the shop floor to your leadership, your employees will increase their knowledge base and perform their job better – often leading to increased job satisfaction and retention.
MEP Centers along with local education and economic development partners, offer training in basic workplace skills such as:
MEP Centers and partners can also help provide supervisors and managers with essential leadership skills, such as:
Many MEP Centers offer Training within Industry (TWI), a methodology that quickly and consistently trains employees who are new to the world of manufacturing. At its core, this training – targeted at production supervisors and team leaders – provides a set of tools to effectively teach new staff the right way to perform their job. Companies that implement TWI have seen the time to develop new hires into productive workers cut in half, along with reductions in scrap and rework.
Engaging and retaining current staff is critical to maximize productivity and reduce turnover. Hiring and developing new staff is an investment, and engaging staff maximizes that investment. MEP Centers can help in a variety of areas that impact retention, including employee engagement surveys, compensation and recognition systems and assistance to develop career pathways, build a culture of teamwork and create a learning organization.
Creating a positive workplace culture that successfully attracts and retains talent takes work, and does not just occur on its own. Working with MEP Centers to be effective in all stages of talent management from assessment and planning to engagement and retention enables manufacturers to develop a reputation as an employer of choice in their region.
The challenge of attracting and retaining a diverse, productive, engaged workforce has grown. Workers seek quality jobs, and companies that prioritize job quality become employers of choice. Job quality is not just about the job; it is a combination of key drivers that are important to each worker’s overall employment experience. Pay and benefits matter, and so do many other factors like workplace safety and health, a voice, scheduling predictability, skills building, and advancement. Together, these distinguish an employer of choice from the rest. The Job Quality Toolkit, rooted in the Baldirige Excellence Framework, is an actionable tool that organizations can use to improve the quality of the jobs they offer. Identifying and improving the drivers most valued by workers can significantly increase their satisfaction and engagement and, in turn, benefit the organization’s ability to compete for talent and achieve success in the marketplace.
SCMEP was able to come in and teach our master trainers who are now training all of the shop floor associates. The workshop is very effective and I often hear comments such as, 'This is what we have always been missing.' The associates trained learn the methods very thoroughly and the workshop was taught in a way that made them very comfortable.
—Paul Flaherty, Quality Manager, JTEKT Corporation
Read the Success Story
For more information or assistance with your workforce, please contact your local MEP Center.
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