What Manufacturers can do About the Growing Workforce Skills Gap

The world of work is changing rapidly. As manufacturers upgrade to more intelligent machines that can produce goods faster and more cheaply, they’re faced with a people problem. Human workers still needed to operate the machines and optimize the line. Unfortunately, their skills are not keeping pace with the technology that powers the advanced machines. In many ways, worker skills are “expiring” at a pace we haven’t seen in recent history. According to one analysis, evolving technology combined with the exit of retiring workers means that by 2028, U.S. manufacturers will be faced with a 2.4 million worker shortage due to the skills gap. Let’s take a look at some of the strategies a manufacturer might deploy to minimize the impact of the workforce skills gap.

Shifting the hiring mindset

If your manufacturing facility is in an area where skilled workers with relevant experience are in short supply due to the nature of your location — let’s say it’s in a rural area with few similar facilities — it creates an ongoing challenge. If your team has baby boomer employees who are nearing retirement, this can create something of a crisis. That’s where you have to get strategic and future-focused with your workforce. Instead of following the traditional recruit, evaluate and hire route, look at your workforce as a resource that is developed and trained in-house. Here’s what that might look like.

Rethink the job description

Rather than looking for a true fit with skills and work history, hire based on other qualities, like values, work ethic and interest in developing specific skills.

Start an employee development program

This program can be for new high-potential hires along with current employees who want to grow within the organization. Pair these workers with skilled employees for ongoing training and mentorship. But be mindful: These types of programs require planning and oversight. Otherwise, you run the risk of cultivating resentment and burnout within your skilled employees. Being intentional, having a plan, and keeping employees from being overworked will be key.

Build industry-education alliances

Part of the solution can start with school — your future workforce. As an industry, connecting with educators and instructors in your community can help you make inroads on the skills deficit. You can do this through initiatives that have already been created by business groups and educational facilities. (Or, start an industry-education alliance from the ground up.) Doing so can help instructors and teachers update and optimize their curriculum, add training opportunities and build the skills that will get students in better alignment with the needs of the 21st century workforce. Read more about the power of these collaborations here.

Rethink the manufacturing line

Perhaps updating secondary packaging equipment is part of your overall strategy in streamlining production. Have you considered how the selection of the equipment itself can have an impact on addressing the workforce skills gap? In addition to speed, innovation and quality, here are some other key aspects of the design to consider so you can bridge, rather than increase, the workforce gap.

  • A unified HMI concept across the entire line. When different machines have controls that are similar to each other, responding in ways that are easy to predict, it streamlines the training process.
  • Access to diagnosis and recovery tools, so the operator can easily identify the cause of the fault and fix it quickly.
  • Automation of key features to reduce hands-on time as well as faults.
  • A data collection system that helps production managers analyze the events of the production cycle, so they can pass along detailed, useful feedback to the machine operators, with directions that will bring better results.

Ready to optimize your production line with secondary packaging machines that support your team’s ability to keep things running? Get in touch with a Douglas team member now to learn more about how our line of innovative secondary packaging solutions can be completely customized to your unique needs.

Follow us on social media for the latest updates in B2B!

Twitter – @MarketScale
Facebook – facebook.com/marketscale
LinkedIn – linkedin.com/company/marketscale

Follow us on social media for the latest updates in B2B!



One-of-a-kind shopping experiences
The Resurgence of Brick-and-Mortar Stores: One-of-a-kind Shopping Experiences Are Turning Customers into Brand Ambassadors
April 24, 2024

In the convenient world of e-commerce, big box stores are seeing a resurgence. Chains like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, and Target are experimenting with one-of-a-kind shopping experiences that can turn casual shoppers into loyal fans. In a recent Experts Talk roundtable, Allen Adamson, Co-Founder at Metaforce, highlighted how one-of-a-kind shopping experiences make for exciting […]

Read More
digital augmentations
Revolutionize Customer Engagement Through Digital Augmentations in Physical Retail
April 24, 2024

The digital transformation of retail experiences in physical stores has become crucial as big-box retailers strive to maintain their relevance and competitive edge in a digital era. These retailers are embedding interactive features and digital augmentations in their physical locations to offer unique, engaging customer experiences. This approach merges the tactile allure of in-store […]

Read More
Enthusiastic and Trained Employees can Enhance Experiences and Drive Success in Physical Retail
April 24, 2024

In today’s retail landscape, big-box retailers are emphasizing the importance of their physical locations, even as the digital marketplace continues to expand. Stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart are not just maintaining their brick-and-mortar presence but are actively enhancing it with features like interactive elements and new store openings. This reassertion of the […]

Read More
The Coexistence of Big Box and Small Retail Relies on Synergistic Relationships
April 24, 2024

Despite being long time competitors, big box retailers and small local businesses can both coexist in ways that benefit the other. Of course, both retail formats are different but by maintaining their core business models, the two can bank and leverage their strengths and still be open to synergistic relationships. During an episode of […]

Read More