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Manufacturing Industry Updates Supply Chain Industry Updates

Report: Manufacturers Lose Workers to Booming Warehouse and Distribution Facilities

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A looming retirement wave of experienced manufacturing workers, coupled with a skills gap among many younger workers, are among reasons often cited for the many unfilled manufacturing jobs in the United States.

A new report looks at those familiar causes, but also notes some manufacturing jobs are going unfilled because of competition from the booming supply chain sector.

“It appears that not enough potential workers show an interest in making a career in manufacturing,” Deloitte and The Manufacturing Insitute observed in the report. “And this situation could get worse as major employers of warehouse and distribution facilities hire tens of thousands of new workers on wages that resemble manufacturing’s entry positions. These jobs can offer flexible schedules and can provide better work/life balance.”

Deloitte said that while manufacturers have recovered only 60% of jobs lost since the beginning of the pandemic, “warehousing and storage recovered all jobs lost during the pandemic and then doubled the number of these positions by the end of 2020 for a recovery rate of 204%.”

Unfilled jobs have serious consequences for manufacturers.

In “Creating Pathways for Tomorrow’s Workforce Today,” Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute offer advice to manufacturers struggling with diverse workforce issues, including finding entry-level workers, locating skilled workers such as machinists and keeping the workforce upskilled and trained. Some of the suggestions:

  • Engage with local communities — “Companies that have built strong relationships within the community and fostered a connection between employees’ work and their lives outside the walls of the factory have reported a better ability to attract new job candidates for entry-level positions.” the report said.
  • Engage with veterans and other specific cohorts of workers — “Consider targeting specific cohorts of workers, such as former military personnel, who likely have skills in the areas you need,” Deloitte said. “The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes Make America program is one example of a resource that manufacturers have used.”
  • Rethink the way you manage your workforce — “Changing the talent management approach from … static job descriptions and linear career paths toward defining and organizing the work and the workforce is an important aspect that can define the areas most necessary for training,” the report observed.

Action is clearly required. The report projected the manufacturing skills gap could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030 and cost the U.S. economy as much as $1 trillion.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) issued a similar warning in its own recent report. In fact, “Attracting younger, properly skilled workers is an existential crisis” for manufacturers, WEF said.

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