Experts weigh in on the skilled labor shortage in 2015

As the manufacturing industry rolls up its sleeves to tackle new challenges in the new year, experts have made predictions for trends and solutions as companies face a looming skilled labor shortage. On this blog, we've written about the dearth of fresh talent coming up to replace retirees among the manufacturing workforce, and how creative training solutions and incentives could motivate more young people to pursue careers in manufacturing. 

One key to solving the shortfall is increasing wages. During the recession, skilled workers saw their salaries decline precipitously as a result of slow demand and diminishing returns. According to Traci Fiatte, president of general staffing at Randstad, that trend has already begun to correct itself as the market rebounds. 

"We have seen an increase in jobs, but not an increase in pay, but that is starting to change," she told Manufacturing.net. "Even in entry level positions, the salaries are staring to creep up, and that is what you would expect to find when demand is high and supply is low."

Another strategy that has gained considerable media attention has been the reintroduction of apprenticeship programs at major manufacturers. Taking the lead from German auto manufacturers, the train-from-within approach saves companies money by investing in its own workforce. Similarly, high schools and community colleges have embraced introductory programs for students, which expose young people to factory skills early on. 

Experts have also highlighted the diversity shortage on factory floors. With fewer women and minorities in roles traditionally held by men, those groups could represent a large untapped pool of talent. 

By beefing up compensation packages for factory workers and making vocational training programs more accessible to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, the manufacturing industry stands to pick up the pace with a new class of professionals.