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.