Statistics, figures and data of the manufacturing industry are key indicators of every nation’s economy (GDP) – production, exports, employment, living standards, infrastructure and self-sufficiency to name a few. The manufacturing industry has now become the backbone of every nation’s economic sustenance, stability and progress. It is the only sector that controls several other general conditions of a nation, like employment and consumables’ prices. There is no doubt about how vital the manufacturing industry’s contribution to a nation’s economic development is, and that’s probably why manufacturing has often been referred to as the ‘wealth producing sector’.
The Manufacturing Industry, recovering from recession at a pace much faster than expected, has made headlines globally about its rapid recovery and progress. According to a recent study by Deloitte LLP, Manufacturing is ranked the No. 1 Industry for Economic Prosperity. Other global publications’ articles’ (2010-11) headlines read – ‘Midwestern states see rebirth of manufacturing’; ‘US on verge of ‘manufacturing renaissance’’; ‘Latest Manufacturing Data looks brighter after slowdown’ (UK); ‘Manufacturing lifts Canada April leading indicator and Study forecasts strong year for Canadian manufacturing industries’; ‘Industrial (primarily manufacturing) investment in Monroe county topped $200 million in 2010’; ‘Global manufacturing industry continues to expand (CILTUK)’; ‘Manufacturing sector back on track and will be the key driver for the UK Economy’; ‘Scotland Manufacturing sector cheered by strong data’; ‘High Value Manufacturing key to Kingdom’s sustainable economic wealth’ (Arab News);’ Manufacturing Sector Key to Economic Growth for Africa’; ‘Manufacturing sectors of the industry will be the drivers of Russia’s economic growth in 2011, with growth dynamics of 7.5 percent’ .
Where on the one hand, the manufacturing sector is strengthening, expanding and diversifying massively, the shortage of manufacturing workers is ‘dangerously’ threatening the industry. According to an IBR (International Business Reports) report, one of the key challenges the manufacturing industry is facing, is the ‘retention of skilled labour and key workers’. About 35% (average) respondents to the survey cited ‘lack of availability of skilled workforce’ as one of the major challenges, while the global average for manufacturers facing difficulty in recruiting ideally skilled manpower is 50%, and those encountering staff retention issues is a considerable 48%. According to the US Council on Competitiveness and the Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index (Deloitte), talent is the key to success in manufacturing. Per BIG (Business Intelligence Guide), one of the top ten challenges for manufacturers currently is ‘maintaining a sufficient talent pool and adequately skilled manufacturing workers’. Other news reports’ headlines read, ‘Pennsylvania Faces Critical Shortage of Skilled Manufacturing Workers’; ‘Thriving manufacturing industry in danger from skills shortage’ (UK); ‘Manufacturing focused classes added to address worker shortage’(JS Online); ‘Austria’s Manufacturing Industry Warns of a shortage of Apprentices in the Technological Field’(Austrian News); ‘Skills shortage threatens to hit revival of manufacturing industry’ (Birmingham Post); ‘Manufacturing belts in labour shortage’ (China); ‘Shortage of skilled workers in the Manufacturing sector in Germany’; ‘Factory jobs return, but employers find skills shortage’ (NY Times); ‘Manufacturing association takes aim at skills shortage’ (NAM – National Association of Manufacturers); ‘Shortage of talent top concern among international manufacturing leaders’ (Randstad); ‘US Manufacturers getting desperate for skilled people (USA Today). In fact, CNN Money recently featured an entire article on ‘manufacturing’s skilled worker shortage’.