It's hard to create a sense of urgency when we are immersed in an environment of change.
The past five months have been unrelenting, forcing us to continually adjust to ever-evolving circumstances around us.
The workforce landscape also has been dynamic, transitioning from a period of record-low unemployment to one of record-setting highs in mere weeks.
How does this impact the skills gap forecasted for manufacturing in the years ahead? Why should workforce development continue to be a relevant part of corporate strategic planning? What response is still needed?
These questions are the very ones addressed by AEM's Workforce Solutions Summit, coming up on Aug. 10-12.
To plan for the future, we need to understand the road ahead. Although no one can truly claim to "see the future," what we do know is U.S. manufacturing is predicted to have a shortage of 2.4 million workers in the next decade, with the number of new jobs growing by 1.96 million workers by 2028.
Mix in the more than 2.6 million baby boomers that are expected to retire from manufacturing jobs over the next decade, and the challenge quickly adds up.
But what about record unemployment? Unfortunately, even the fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic won't fill our skills gap.
Find Out What Lies Ahead
Information is power when planning. That's why AEM invited Manpower Manufacturing Vice President Rebekah Kowalski to participate in its Workforce Solutions Summit. Kowalski, who is responsible for ManpowerGroup North America's Manufacturing Sector Strategy, will share what the workforce outlook is for manufacturing from the perspective of the third-largest employment firm in the world. Not only will we get the latest glimpse into what lies ahead, but Kowalski will also discuss how we use this information to create better strategies.
The information in this session is meant for both our C-suite decision-maker audience and our HR audience. Bringing decision-makers together with human resources is a necessary and deliberate step toward addressing our future skills gap.
Industry needs to embrace the understanding that talent is not just an HR issue, but also a business issue. Human capital is the engine behind our industry. When that engine is limited due to a talent shortage, research shows it can cost manufacturers up to 11 percent of net earnings.
At AEM, we want to help our members change the workforce forecast from an industry challenge to their advantage through knowledge and awareness. We'll be there to provide compelling information, support members in taking their first, or their next, steps in developing their local workforce pipeline. Each presentation of our Workforce Solutions Summit correlates with AEM's workforce development's newly created Strategic Plan.
From helping members get new ideas for outreach and recruitment, to supporting employee retention, to just finding new pools of people to draw from, we want to offer solutions that meet your needs for today and tomorrow.
Taking the First (or Next) Step
Despite the growing skills gap and the economic impact that it can have on net earnings, many companies don't see, or aren't able to place, workforce development as a strategic priority.
AEM's Q1 workforce survey indicated that many of our small to mid-sized members don't have dedicated individuals or budgets when it comes to workforce development.
Sadly, the skills gap has no discrimination between company sizes. The time of resting on the idea that industry workforce challenges will be solved by the largest among us, or by some national marketing campaign, is done.
Like many industry challenges, each of us will be responsible for doing what we can do in our own backyard to address this gap. Fortunately, this work will directly benefit the companies who are willing to make a local effort.
Often, the biggest obstacle that prevents us from addressing a challenge is how to get started or what step to take next. Our member-led workforce committee offered excellent insights into mainstreaming workforce development across the industry. These insights included asking AEM to clear the clutter and create immediate value through workforce development for our members, while making sure that getting started wouldn't be overwhelming.
The committee advocated that members develop an "in it for the long game" mentality and change the focus on talent from being an HR issue to a business issue. Based on the committee recommendations, AEM has developed a strong plan that – along with member engagement – we believe can narrow the skills gap.
AEM's Workforce Solutions Summit is the first of many solutions-focused opportunities that the association will begin offering its members as we embark on the challenging journey ahead. Our vision will be to build a community of AEM members who work together to influence industry perception and create a coordinated talent system, resulting in a continuous supply of qualified workers supporting long-term industry success.
We'll do this by offering a tiered workforce initiative that focuses on small to mid-sized member support through a digital toolkit and individual member consulting services. To begin, we'll focus on ensuring all members have access to the foundational elements that make up best practices for workforce development. After the basics are in place, we'll begin to layer the digital toolkit with the successful initiatives of members in our industry in order to celebrate and share successful ideas.
Members can choose to craft their own workforce building activities, or they can choose to get support through remote or on-site consulting. Together, we will begin to close the skills gap that plagues our industry today.
Looking for more best practices, research, programs, and resources supporting workforce development for the industries we serve? Visit https://www.aem.org/workforce-development/ and subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor.
Julie Davis is the AEM Director of Workforce Development
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