Seeking the Root Cause of the Skills Gap

99% of manufacturers expect to have trouble finding qualified workers, according to a new SME report. The Skills Gap is not getting any smaller.

36% of respondents said that they were budgeting for training. Only 40% were investing in trainers. Only 31% offered structured training programs.

SME concluded that manufacturers are still worrying about the Skills Gap… and still not investing in training. Manufacturers, they conclude, are doing the same things they did at the beginning of the Skills Gap scare and expecting different outcomes.

High paying, highly skilled jobs are getting harder to fill, but automation is making them more creative by taking on the repetitive parts of their jobs. Top tier jobs are becoming more creative and more satisfying. Automation is refining these jobs, not replacing them.

Low skilled jobs are largely gone in manufacturing. The remaining low-skill jobs are not suited to automation. Robots can make burgers, but they can’t put tomatoes on them correctly. Robots can’t make beds, take orders from restaurant patrons efficiently, or change diapers.

It’s the jobs in the middle that are threatened. Mid-level management, clerks, and other such jobs are likely to be taken over not by robots but by software. People currently in those jobs may not be able to step up to highly skilled jobs. They may be pushed into low-skilled jobs that robots can’t do.

If employers choose mid-level workers for the low-level jobs, the people who have been taking those jobs could be pushed out by human competitors, not by robots.

Will former warehouse clerks be more desirable as baristas than former history grad students? Time will tell.

But better automation probably won’t solve the skills gap. Rexroth focuses on training, and has for many years. This may be the real solution to the Skills Gap.

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