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The unemployment rate in the United States has reached its lowest level in 50 years. While that sounds like purely great news on the surface, the move to full employment poses one significant challenge for companies in many industries: a shortage of skilled workers to fill their open positions.

Manufacturing is one industry that’s feeling the impact of the labor shortage. While most manufacturing jobs don’t require college degrees, many demand a specialized skill set that much of today’s workforce does not possess. Although automation has made some jobs obsolete, there are still many that require human beings with the appropriate training. Examples of the skilled labor shortage in manufacturing include professionals such as electricians, machinists and rail transportation workers, to name a few.

Conducting a Skills Gap Analysis

If you own or manage a manufacturing operation in South Central PA, you’re likely feeling the effects of the skills gap right now. You’re probably scrambling to find the right workers to meet the high demand for your goods in today’s thriving economy. Furthermore, you may be having a hard time determining the specific training, hiring and skill requirements that apply to your evolving work environment.

A skills gap analysis is a valuable tool that can help you identify the employee skills your company needs to achieve your production and business objectives. It can also assist you in developing effective strategies for closing the skills gap.

The steps in the skills gap analysis process consist of:

  • Identifying organizational objectives: It’s virtually impossible to know all the skill sets your manufacturing operation needs until you outline your goals and objectives. You can then determine the current and future training your employees will require to develop the right skills.
  • Conducting a skills breakdown: Identify the specific skills that apply to each job function within your organization. To make this assessment easier, combine several similar jobs that have similar skill requirements, as these workers will likely have the same training needs. Then, prioritize the skills based on the position level. For example, supervisors will probably need sufficient training to achieve expert status, while line workers may only need to become proficient.
  • Determining the skills your workers already possess: Once you’ve identified the skills that each position requires, the next step involves assessing your employees’ current skill levels. A variety of tools and methods are available to assist you. Examples include assessment tests, personal interviews, surveys, assessment software, employee evaluations and observing workers as they perform their job duties.
  • Gathering and analyzing the data: Now that you know the skills you require and those that your employees currently possess, you can determine where the gaps exist. You’ll also know what training or hiring opportunities and challenges lie ahead for your organization.
  • Closing the skills gap: You can pursue several avenues to close the skills gaps you’ve identified through your analysis. Depending on your situation, you should create an action plan consisting of training your current staff, hiring new employees who have the right skills or a combination of the two methods.

Ideas for Addressing and Closing Your Skills Gap

Use the following steps to help you hire and develop skilled employees for your manufacturing operation:

  • Expand your job applicant pool: If your traditional recruiting and hiring practices aren’t helping you locate qualified applicants, consider some “outside the box” ideas to widen the pool. Look for nontraditional applicants who have received training from the numerous nonprofit entities that exist today. Also, consider those you may have overlooked previously, including retirees looking to re-enter the workforce, people with disabilities and formerly incarcerated individuals who have received relevant job training while in prison or upon their release.
  • Partner with trade schools in your area: Most manufacturing trade schools these days focus on skill development for present and future jobs. Networking with these institutions can help you find and attract well-trained workers — they’ll just need the real-world experience, which your organization can provide.
  • Provide upskilling opportunities for your staff: Your current employees will likely take advantage of training opportunities you offer them, especially if you provide the funding. You’ll help them acquire the skills your organization desperately needs. In the process, you’ll also enhance your employee retention efforts.

MANTEC Can Help You Meet Your Skill Requirements

MANTEC is a nonprofit manufacturing consulting firm that can offer low-cost training and certification opportunities for your employees, and we can also help you optimize your hiring process. We proudly serve manufacturing operations throughout South Central PA. Call MANTEC at 717-843-5054 or contact us online to learn more.

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