Job Vacancies Becoming Manufacturing ‘Crisis’


Some problems, they say, are good ones to have … until they’re not.

If you have a plate of nachos that’s overflowing with too many toppings, it’s a good problem to have only until you can’t finish them and you have to scrape the whole congealed mess into the garbage.

Likewise, the manufacturing industry is dealing with its own oversupply and in this case, the delicious nachos are jobs.

The economy is booming, and the Department of Labor just released its jobs report where it hailed a fifth straight month where job openings eclipsed the number of unemployed people. Great news, right? Well, sort of.

While the demand for workers has resulted in modest pay raises in some industries, a huge gap of nearly half a million jobs in the manufacturing space is causing its own problems.

According to a recent blog by Carolyn Lee — Executive Director of NAM’s non-profit The Manufacturing Institute — the 488,000 job vacancies reported by the Labor Department represents a gap that’s projected to grow in the years to come and it not only could it hamper growth within the manufacturing sector, but it could do the same for the economy as a whole.

Lee also pinpointed some industry data from NAM’s Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, where 73% of respondents said that the “workforce crisis” is their number one concern, and this is despite what she describes as an “overwhelmingly optimistic” sentiment about the industry in general.

The Manufacturing Institute suggests working to change outdated perceptions — something the industry has been identifying as a problem for many years — but also to look toward inclusion and diversity initiatives.

Analysts at PwC say that corporate efforts to bolster diversity are “intensifying” in order to help recruit groups “differentiated by gender, age, sexual orientation, religious, or political beliefs, or by experiences such as educational background, military service, or physical disabilities.”

It’s a great approach, though the manufacturing industry should know that it’s not the only one working this angle: An August report by CNN Money said that postings for “diversity officer” positions on the career website have increased by 20% between 2017 and 2018, which likely means many other industries are looking to crack the egg in much the same way.

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