As I travel the country, I hear from manufacturers the challenge they face in attracting and retaining talent. For many manufacturers, the skills gap is very real. It means passing up a major order because the skilled talent just isn’t there. The Manufacturing Institute’s own skills gap data, published with Deloitte, documents that over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs likely will need to be filled. The skills gap, however, is expected to leave 2 million of those jobs unfilled.
For decades, manufacturers have relied on strategies that include referrals and leveraging staffing agencies. To remain competitive, manufacturers must do more. They must deploy new strategies to attract, retain and grow the manufacturing workforce.
Industry-based certifications play an important role. Manufacturers run and operate facilities according to standards that create predictable, trackable and reliable outcomes. Yet, unlike other industries, such as IT or health care, manufacturing has not fully leveraged the power of standards and certifications in recruiting talent. Industry certifications validate what a prospective candidate knows and what he or she is able to do, eliminating the guesswork from hiring and promotions, reducing costs and minimizing risks.
Small and large companies alike are increasingly leveraging certifications and the standards on which they are built. Companies like Bison Gear & Engineering and Sun Hydraulics Corporation have seen results that have enhanced their bottom lines. Caterpillar is leveraging the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) standards and encouraging suppliers to use them as well.
In June, the MSSC released CPT standards updated by manufacturers to reflect the most recent changes to basic skills that entry-level workers need to enter into, and advance in, manufacturing careers.
As manufacturers consider their hiring strategies, we encourage them to consider the use of industry certifications. The clearer we are on what it takes to join the manufacturing workforce, the better positioned we are to find the talent we need to succeed.