One of the biggest challenges that the manufacturing industry has faced over the last 5-10 years is the growing skill gap. With more young people pursuing a four-year degree over learning a trade, more and more jobs are going unfilled. This has a direct impact on the productivity of shops across the country. When a machine unexpectedly goes down, do you have someone on speed dial to come and fix it?
According to a Politico article from 2014, the primary challenge when it comes to closing the skill gap is “giving workers the chance to acquire the right skills for the jobs in their communities.” The special skills required to do repairs require specific, thorough, and effective training. This training can take years, and when faced with putting the time and money into someone who won’t be able to work for that period of training, many companies opt to invest that time and money elsewhere.
If we fast forward to 2020, the skill gap crisis has not improved. In fact, many find that it has gotten worse. A nationwide US Chamber of Commerce Foundation study (completed in January 2020) found two important statistics:
- In recent years, 74% of respondents agreed that there has been a severe lack of skilled talent available in the workforce.
This is because, on a national level, more importance has been given to traditional higher education. Trade schools have been given less and less value since the 1950s, and according to an article in Forbes, only about 68% of high school students go to college (even though the high school experience has been centered around college prep). Of that 68%, almost 40% don’t finish all four years. When trade schools (and other vocational training) aren’t brought up as an option for students, the result for almost half is wasted time and money.
- 78% of respondents agreed that their company’s hiring processes need to be entirely overhauled to focus on competency rather than degree status.
In general, two people could apply for a job (one with a four-year degree and one with trade school training) and hiring managers would automatically give preference to the person with the traditional, four-year degree.
Solving the skill gap crisis involves both a short-term and a long-term plan. In the long-term, employers need to work with higher education to align what is taught in the classroom with the needs of the economy. On a high school level, the option of trade/vocational schools should be offered as an option that is equally as valid as a traditional four-year degree.
UP! has contributed to this long-term solution by making donations that support STEM education in the manufacturing sector. For example, we have supported Columbus State’s Manufacturing & Engineering Scholarship program and the AMT Miles for Manufacturing 5K.
In the short-term, the immediate solution to the skill gap problem is to connect those who need service with those who provide service. While this may seem like an obvious solution, making these connections can be a challenge if you own a small shop or the machine you have is old. UP! works to connect those needing service to those who can provide it in a convenient, efficient way.
Instead of calls, emails and waiting for responses or availability, the app allows you to search, connect and communicate with service providers all in one place. If you’re interested in learning more about how UP! can help you find the right person for your job, contact us today for more information.