U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, center, and German Education Minister Johanna Wanka watch as trainee Til Pagenkopf demonstrates the use of a CNC machine at the Siemens training facility in Berlin, Germany, on October 28. Perez visited the center to learn more about the German trainee system, in which manufacturers offer paid multiyear training programs to recent high school graduates. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Survey: Talent Shortage Could Short-Circuit Resurgence

Nov. 18, 2014
A ThomasNet survey finds that the manufacturing sector's resurgence is in danger of being squelched by the shortage of young talent the sector faces coupled with baby boomers' negative perceptions about millennials.

The U.S. manufacturing sector's resurgence is in danger of being squelched by the shortage of young talent the sector faces coupled with baby boomers' negative perceptions about millennials, according to ThomasNet's latest Industry Market Barometer research survey.

The annual survey of manufacturers shows continued growth in the sector, with companies consistently hiring new workers, increasing production capacity, and investing for further growth.

Fifty-eight percent of manufacturers grew during 2013, and 63% expect even more gains by the end of this year, according to the survey.

Moreover, 52% of the responding companies said they expect to add staff in the next several months, up from 42% who planned to add staff last year. To keep pace with projected demand, companies are looking for trained, experienced workers: production management, line workers, skilled trade workers and engineers.

Forty-six percent of respondents said that in their experience, young people still perceive manufacturing as dirty, blue-collar work, and 43% of the manufacturers surveyed said they believe that the millennial generation lacks the work ethic and discipline to succeed.

"At a time when the American manufacturing sector is poised for a comeback, the talent shortage is the elephant in the room that could impede progress," ThomasNet's Holst-Knudsen says. "It will take the concerted effort of every manufacturer to reach across generational lines and bring in the people who are critical to the industry's continued success."

For its 2014 Industry Market Barometer, ThomasNet surveyed almost 500 manufacturers.

To download the research, go to ThomasNet.com/imb.

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