2018 has produced a tight labor market for many manufacturers. Particularly in the electronics, aerospace, and trucking/automotive sectors, skilled laborers are becoming increasingly difficult to find. As a consequence, many manufacturers are finding themselves in a position where they are unable to perform contracts that have any degree of complexity without a level of scrap and/or corrective action that renders the contract uneconomical – because they don’t have skilled workers capable of shepherding these difficult contracts to performance. And products that have manufacturing difficulties may not be apparent to the eye: Truck panels or circuit boards that appear no different from standard-issue products may involve tight tolerances and specifications that only become apparent when the resulting products fail to perform as intended or fail to meet applicable specifications.
Solving the problem of insufficient skilled manufacturing workers on a policy level will involve time, coordination, and careful strategy. American education institutions need to stay in close communication with industry, to know what skills the modern manufacturing worker needs to have. Economic incentives have to be right to retain the most skilled workers. And technology has to adequately support the manufacturing workforce to produce robust products. But, in the short and medium term, is there anything that manufacturers can do to cope with these difficulties caused by labor shortages? Continue Reading