While the manufacturing industry in the U.S. has experienced recent growth, it still needs to become more competitive in the near future to drive economic growth.

The United States still has the largest manufacturing sector in the world, and its market share (around 20%) has held steady for 30 years.

In fact, recent research shows that every dollar of final sales of manufactured products contributes $1.33 to the overall economy—the single largest multiplier of any industry.

Yet there is one obstacle in the way: A significant shortage of skilled workers—both now and into the future. For example, in a research survey, 67% of respondents report a "moderate to severe" shortage of available, qualified workers. Worse, another 56% anticipate the shortage becoming worse in the next three to five years as baby boomer workers continue to retire.

With this outlook, the question remains: What can manufacturers do now to address the growing skills gap and better position themselves for future success? More specifically, what talent management best practices can they implement now to improve their recruiting and talent management processes?

This article will briefly highlight three recommendations for helping today's manufacturers overcome these challenges so they can increase their performance—and their competitive edge.

How Did We Get Here?

While the skills gap dilemma in manufacturing is not a new concept, it is a challenging one. For years, manufacturers have noticed a significant gap between the talent they need and the prospective employees they can actually hire. Making matters worse, the most difficult positions to fill—machinists, operators, specialized technicians—also tend to be the most important.

As a result, shortages in skilled manufacturing jobs significantly decrease manufacturers' abilities to increase efficiencies, maximize operations, deliver superior customer service, and improve overall productivity.

While manufacturing companies recognize the importance of improving their recruiting and talent management processes, many still rely on outdated approaches for attracting employees, developing their skills, and helping them grow within the company. As a result, manufacturers desperately need to come up with more creative strategies to address the problem.