Global Value Chain: Skilled Workforce

chain.bmpThis blog series looks at our latest publication, Forging New Partnerships, which takes a close look at how the manufacturing supply chain is changing and the implications for small and medium firms. Through recent blogs, we’ve already looked at staying ahead with innovation and lean manufacturing and finding new markets, especially overseas. Today, we focus on the book’s analysis of the workforce challenge that is a growing concern because half of all manufacturing workers will retire in the decade ahead–over 7 million men and women.

This is particularly challenging for SMMs–small and medium manufacturers. They don’t have the large inhouse training and recruitment units that large manufacturers have. The tangled series of challenges the SMMs face include:

  • attracting new entry-level and skilled workers;
  • training existing workers so they can deliver on the innovation and global business priorities;
  • replacing the knowledge that skilled workers take with them when their retire; and
  • handling the competition when customers, competitors and even smaller companies try to attract an SMMs skilled workers.
  • Developing partnerships to meet these workforce goals is particularly important for SMMs, as it is these partners who can help them solve these challenges. One successful SMM in Minnesota provides 100 hours of training a year for every employee and devotes more than 5 percent of payroll to this purpose year in and year out. Some of the partnering that can help SMMs fill their employee pipeline include:

  • establishing internships for high school and community college students;
  • participating in job fairs with other local employers;
  • publicizing their industry in local publications, with a toll free number or email connection for applicants; and
  • working with manufacturers in the state to get skills back into high schools, just as a “Get Real” program is doing in California.
  • Forging New Partnerships has many examples from SMMs who are succeeding in building unique pipelines and it includes, on page 44, a Human Capital Success Matrix showing SMMs how they can evolve their workforce pipeline, step by step. Check it out!

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