The STEM Talent Shortage: Manufacturing

HIGHLIGHTS

In our STEM Talent Shortage series, we examine four industries impacted by a lack of available workers in STEM fields.

The roads we drive on, the products we buy, the houses we live in – all are tied in some way to manufacturing. The industry lays a foundation for the U.S. economy. Every position created in manufacturing generates another 2.5 jobs in local goods and services. For every dollar invested, another $1.37 of value is added.

Yet this crucial sector is experiencing a severe shortage in several workforce categories. According to a 2015 Manufacturing Institute study that highlights current talent gaps in the industry, 54 percent of executives say skilled production worker positions are most impacted by the skills shortage, followed by engineers (33 percent) and researchers/scientists (28 percent).

Another result of the talent shortage in manufacturing is the squeeze on human capital resources. According to the study, manufacturing workers clock 17 percent more hours annually than all private industries, leaving current employees overworked due to companies’ inability to fill open positions.

The source of the issue? The manufacturing industry has an image problem. Only 39 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds believe a career in manufacturing is interesting and rewarding. And there might not be resources or the support structure to provide training for those interested. For example, a mere 19 percent of people feel the U.S. school system encourages students to pursue degrees in manufacturing.

The data supports these perceptions. In 2010, the United States accounted for only 10 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering awarded worldwide, while China granted a whopping 31 percent.

If foreign countries are producing a greater amount of engineering degrees, it makes sense to consider those workers as a sustainable source for your talent pipeline. In our latest white paper, Skills Gap to Skills Surge: How foreign workers fuel talent pipelines, we revealed why immigrants are skilled and employed in high rates in a variety of STEM fields, including manufacturing.

Learn more about the benefit of global talent by downloading the white paper.