Five Best Practices For Finding Quality, Qualified Workers

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The trend of reshoring is picking up more steam these days as OEMs and large manufacturers realize the total costs of managing extended supply

The labor shortage in the US is real. But, there are things you can do now to help you find the right people.

chains. In a recent Accenture study, 61% of manufacturing executives say they're evaluating moving production closer to consumption - and that means closer or directly back into North America. And the MFGWatch survey from has consistently shown that North American manufacturers are investigating the same moves.

On top of that, the Accenture study also shows that 59% of manufacturing executives are actively looking for new suppliers, and it's obvious that the manufacturing economy is ready to emerge from hibernation and get some serious expansion on. Those numbers play out in recent numbers on manufacturing employment from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which show the best growth since the '70s.

But what happens when those buyers and sourcing cats come-a-callin' and they find under-staffed supplier candidates? And what about your company looking to capitalize on these trends but finding few acceptable candidates to employ.

The labor shortage in the US is real, it's critical, and there are things you can do to increase the odds that you stay ahead of your competition, labor-wise.

  1. Associations - Do you belong to a professional association for your industry? Many have established job banks and industry intelligence for where the best candidates can be found. Also, associations often contribute to or directly support educational initiatives in their industries. Reach out to them or challenge them to get involved with you.
  2. Talk To Your Customers - Many large corporations do the same in regard to supporting education and training for their industries. Some may have had to lay-off workforce, and know of high-functioning, experienced manufacturers that they could recommend. And these days, your buyers are seeking any edge to ensure their suppliers are stable and dependable. Reach out to your business partners to collaborate on a solution.
  3. Apprenticeship Programs - This may seem like a no-brainer, but have you contributed to any active apprenticeship programs in your area? Many have not. Meadville, Pennsylvania, has it right, with its local Precision Machining Institute. But other communities have tried to duplicate this model and not been as successful. Why? One primary reason is the involvement of the entire manufacturing community there. Everyone contributes. Are you or your company hands-on locally? It takes commitment, but supporting programs and processes that fill your labor needs are the most common and effective platform today.
  4. Build Your Own - Several shops, plants and factories have heavily invested in indigenous training programs to nurture their own internal talent. And there are sources for getting the help with curricula and establishing your own program, like the National Institute form Metalworking Skills (NIMS). While it can be a significant investment, this path can lead to greater rewards and a higher-functioning workforce. Also, financially sponsoring students with potential can help assure that local talent stays local.
  5. Cooperatives - Creating co-ops that provide self-help and support can pay off if the manufacturing community is large and diverse enough. It may sound a little crazy to form partnerships with potential or active competitors, but pooling resources are useful for small manufacturers and can take up fewer overall resources while being quite effective.

Manufacturing in the US has suffered through an identity crisis. The fallout from the unfounded belief that manufacturing is lifeless, boring, unclean, and a dead end is totally unjustified, but very real. Fact is, many folks that would have considered or actually HAD a career in manufacturing see it now as too big a gamble.

In the end, it will take work on all our parts to contribute to the solution. It won't happen on its own, and all manufacturing companies need to take the reigns in some fashion to nurture their workforces themselves, and get us back on track to make tangible things again.

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