Here is another one of those cool PwC research reports regarding manufacturing workforce. As always when talking about the present and future workforce, there is good news, bad news, and idle speculation.

We must remember that many of us are filling roles that didn’t exist ten years ago. How many jobs will exist in ten years that we can’t even imagine!

Executives’ Split Opinions on Manufacturing Workforce

PwC Workforce Study TrainingPwC, along with the Manufacturing Institute, surveyed 120 US manufacturers, and found that many are still split on the issue of talent shortage – 31% of manufactures believe there is no manufacturing skills shortage now, but there will be in 3 years, while 29% believe there is one and it will only get worse.

Other stats surveyed and topics discussed in the report include:

  • 75% of factory floor jobs (R&D, engineering, prototype design) are being filled by those with post-second school education
  • 74% of manufacturers are training in-house to raise employee advanced manufacturing skills, with 40% recruiting local STEM students
  • While millennials are of focus, what about Gen Z?
  • Can manufacturers attract the gaming generation using virtual reality as a draw?
  • Wild cards – the maker generation and the gig economy, & the rise of the freelance class

Upskilling manufacturing: How technology is disrupting America’s industrial labor force placed special emphasis on how advanced manufacturing technologies are impacting workforce dynamics. “What we found is that while there is indeed some jitteriness over skills gaps, manufacturers are working to close those gaps. But we’re still in the early stages.”

PwC Workforce Study Slide Hires

PwC Workforce Study Production









  • Skills shortages are not uniformly felt today:  33% of manufacturers say they have no or only a little difficulty in hiring talent to exploit advanced manufacturing technologies, while 44% have ‘moderate difficulty.’
  • The worry is that it will worsen:  31% of manufacturers see no manufacturing workforce skills shortage now but that there will be one in the next three years; 26% say it’s already peaked and is behind us; and 29% said it exists and will only worsen in the next three years.
  • The most common strategy to upskill employees in advanced manufacturing  is to train in-house, followed by recruiting local STEM students and offering outside vocational training.
  • Robots are not stealing manufacturing jobs:  37% believe that the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies will result in their hiring additional employees; 45% said it will have no impact on hiring; and 17% said it will result in hiring fewer employees.
  • But advanced tech is changing job requirements and descriptions: Nearly three-quarters of non factory floor manufacturing jobs are given to candidates with a four year or advanced degree.

Click bait and People As An Asset

I wonder how much of the worry is caused by idle speculation from the press searching for page views? Bad news hyped is as good a formula as “10 ways to attract the opposite sex” for getting clicks to your site. The fact that so many are taking immediate steps to “upskill” their workforce is gratifying.

Too often we forget that people are the most important asset. They come not only with two hands, but they also come with a brain. The more we encourage them to develop and use that brainpower, the more successful our enterprise will be.

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