- Employers in the manufacturing industry are expecting the strongest hiring numbers since the late-2000s financial crisis for the upcoming quarter, according to ManpowerGroup's Q4 Employment Outlook Survey. The survey gathered responses from 59,000 employers in 43 countries across various industries.
- Additionally, 21% of all employers plan to increase their staff, demonstrating that increased hiring is strong in all U.S. regions and industries. Of the 13 U.S. industry sectors that offered hiring growth forecasts, the strongest came from the leisure and hospitality sector.
- Conversely, the weakest forecast came from government employers, who expect hiring levels to stay relatively the same compared to Q3 2017, despite an anticipated 3% drop from Q4 2016.
Manufacturing has made a strong comeback since its pre-recession slump, as various economic reports are showing. But the industry's hiring forecast faces challenges from the skills gap, which is hindering employers' ability to fill job openings with capable applicants, and the opioid addiction epidemic, which a Princeton University study shows is driving one in five men out of the workforce.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) predicts that U.S. employers will have two million jobs to fill by 2025. Manufacturing industries will need 300,000 welders and welding instructors by 2020, according to the American Welding Society. The skills gap and the opioid crisis could severely hinder the industry's comeback.
Manufacturing also has an image problem that's cutting into its applicant pool. The industry had always provided well-paying jobs for scores of Americans, many of whom did not pursue a college education. But the push for degrees in white-collar jobs has made blue-collar occupations seem less desirable. Fred Goff, CEO of Jobcase, told HR Dive in an April interview that job seekers who discover the range and lucrativeness of blue-collar careers could be trained to fill the vacancies NAM predicts. This could especially include the unemployed, under-employed and women.
Manufacturers who are willing to train workers through apprenticeships might be able to help close the skills gap. The opioid epidemic is a tougher challenge, but wellness programs and employee assistance programs (EAPs) might offer affected workers and their dependents the treatment options they need.