We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

  • Jens Tärning from the Noun Project
  • Business Impact

    Here’s what a manufacturing skills gap of more than 2 million people will look like

    Unless manufacturers start exploring new strategies, they won’t be able to find enough people qualified to work in their specialized factories.

    There will be 4.6 million new manufacturing jobs in the US to fill between 2018 and 2028, according to a new report out yesterday from Deloitte.

    The gap (see chart above)

    Over half of the newly created jobs—2.4 million—are predicted to go empty.

    The report attributes this to three main things:

    • An increase in the skill level required for manufacturing jobs as they make more use of automation.
    • A loss of many experienced workers as baby boomers leave the workforce.
    • A negative perception of the manufacturing industry by both students and their parents.

    Where are the new jobs coming from?

    Jens Tärning from the Noun Project

    Much of the manufacturing workforce is aging. More than 2.6 million baby boomers working in the industry are expected to retire over the next 10 years.

    The rest of the new jobs—about 2 million—will come from natural growth. As the US expands its specialized manufacturing industry, more people will be needed to support the development.

    That sounds like good news, but the problem is there aren’t enough workers ready to take on these new roles.

    The problem is already here

    All these things are already making it harder to recruit workers. In 2015 it took an average of 70 days to find someone to fill a skilled manufacturing job. That’s creeping up.

    Guilherme Furtado from the Noun Project

    That means it now takes an average of 93 days to fill these roles, a figure that’s only anticipated to grow in the next decade.

    Closing the gap

    For the short term, the authors outlined three possible solutions to the shortage of potential employees:

    Sign up for Clocking In
    A look into how technology is shaping the workplace of the future

    For the long term, the report recommends that companies investigate a few different paths:

    • Finding ways to continue tapping into the knowledge of retired workers, hiring them for short-term projects after they’ve left and keeping them accessible to answer questions.
    • Using automation to complete more tasks in the factory.
    • Exploring new models of sourcing talent, such as finding it through gig platforms.
    • Establishing partnerships with governments, universities, and other public institutions.
    • Creating new digital training platforms to develop and retain talent (see “Your boss is now more likely to train you up, thanks to a dwindling talent pool”).

    Without changes and investment from businesses now, they will be paying the price 10 years down the line.

    Want to keep up to date with the workplace of the future? Sign up for Clocking In, our future of work newsletter.

    Learn from the humans leading the way in the future of work at EmTech Next. Register Today!
    June 11-12, 2019
    Cambridge, MA

    Register now
    Jens Tärning from the Noun Project
    Guilherme Furtado from the Noun Project
    More from Business Impact

    How technology advances are changing the economy and providing new opportunities in many industries.

    Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Print + All Access Digital.
    • Print + All Access Digital {! insider.prices.print_digital !}*

      {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

      The best of MIT Technology Review in print and online, plus unlimited access to our online archive, an ad-free web experience, discounts to MIT Technology Review events, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

      See details+

      12-month subscription

      Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

      6 bi-monthly issues of print + digital magazine

      10% discount to MIT Technology Review events

      Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

      Ad-free website experience

      The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

      The MIT Technology Review App

    You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.