“Baby Boomers with a significant knowledge base are retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day.”

No manufacturer can ignore the urgency of that figure.

The quote comes from manufacturing and supply chain expert and president of LMA Consulting Group Inc. Lisa Anderson. She has Boomer retirements topping her list of reasons for the widening skills gap.

Making matters worse is the gap in skilled trades such as CNC operators. Anderson bemoans the lack of focus on high school and community college career paths into manufacturing, citing industry leaders’ unwillingness to invest in solving the problem.

“Those that find a way to bridge this gap have a leg up on the competition,” she observes.

She advises partnerships to counter the skilled-jobs deficit. “Successful executives have set up programs with local community colleges, partnered with trade associations such as the Association for Supply Chain Management (APICS), [and others].”

Further evidence of the problem’s severity is revealed in the 2020 Ohio Manufacturing Survey, conducted by the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), a resource to help manufacturers grow and compete in Northeast Ohio.

The survey of more than 670 companies statewide represents more than 128,000 of the state’s 700,000 manufacturing workers. Almost 6 in 10 report the skilled worker shortage is hampering their growth, with more than 1 in 4 indicating they are challenged by current worker retirements. While manufacturers are concerned about finding and hiring skilled workers, only about one-third of companies are actively innovating the way they recruit and retain employees.

Hiring strategies continue to focus on traditional sources: 88% use employee referrals, 83% use job postings, 62% use staffing agencies, 44% work with high schools, and 37% work with community colleges.

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Published in Aerospace Manufacturing & Design on Feb. 25, 2020