Where Have All the Manufacturing Workers Gone?

It’s no secret that manufacturing has trouble keeping jobs filled. Possible reasons:

The skills gap

The average machinist is in his 50s and on the verge of retirement. The average millennial has a degree in psychology or history and isn’t that strong with math. So where will factories find skilled workers? Suggested answers range from hiring women to investing more in training. Finding people to work on the line continues to be a challenge.

The bad rap

Manufacturing has changed a lot, but parents and career counselors still see it as hard, unsatisfying, dirty work with a high chance of layoffs. Adults responsible for talking about job prospects with teens and young adults don’t usually talk bout manufacturing. In truth, most manufacturing is now clean and well paying, but the reputation lingers.

Lack of interest

It’s not just history, though. A recent Gallup poll found that just 25% of employees in manufacturing were engaged with their work. That’s 75% whose minds and hearts are somewhere else during working hours. That makes manufacturing workers the least engaged workers in the nation.

Jeff French of Grant Thornton says it’s all about the culture. Use new technology to communicate, he suggests, and foster a new culture of engagement. Mentorships can replace the annual performance review. Learning can be an ongoing part of factory work, and increased skills can be rewarded to give a feeling of future opportunity.

Industrial robots

It’s no secret that automation affects manufacturing employment. For decades, manufacturers have brought in modern industrial robots that can replace tens of workers each. A resurgence in American manufacturing hasn’t led to an influx in manufacturing employment in the U.S.

The seeming threat of complete automation in manufacturing is enough to scare away young workers from pursuing a career in manufacturing. There’s little confidence in job security when you constantly see reminders in the news that technology is getting better and robots are coming for your job.

We will have to wait and see if there will continue to be a need for human workers in manufacturing plants or if lights out factories become the new standard. Either way, your machines will continue to be indispensable. Call 479-422-0390 for professional maintenance, inspection, and repair for your Rexroth system.

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