Upskilling Manufacturing Talent: The Key to Factory…

Upskilling Manufacturing Talent: The Key to Factory…

Jun 29, 2016

“Upskilling Manufacturing Talent: The Key to Factory of the Future”

By Robert McCutcheon, US Industrial Products Leader at PwC

I’ve been talking about how emerging digital technology is going to disrupt our manufacturing industry, but one question remains: Who is going to know how to work the technology? So today, I’m here to talk about talent.

PwC and the Manufacturing Institute surveyed 120 U.S. manufacturers to get a closer look at the talent picture and see how advanced manufacturing technologies are impacting workforce dynamics. Our survey shows that manufacturers are working to close the skills gap, but we’re still in the early stages.

Manufacturers are under greater pressure to produce faster and more productively by using advanced manufacturing technologies like 3D printing or robotics. So naturally, there is a growing need for qualified talent to drive this effort. What we found through our survey is that manufacturers today are either developing a talent pipeline to exploit advanced manufacturing technology, or are in the process of ramping up their efforts.

Here are some key findings from our study:

  • Manufacturers are not speaking in a unified voice on the skills shortage issue – PwC’s survey reveals that 44 percent believe there is no skills shortage presently but will see a shortage in the next three years, and 25 percent believe a skills shortage has already peaked, while 29 percent believe the skills shortage is worsening and will continue to worsen over the next three years.
  • Manufacturers are struggling to secure talent to exploit advanced technology – Two out of three manufacturers are encountering difficulty in finding high-tech skilled personnel, while only 13 percent of manufactures said they have encountered no difficulty in acquiring talent to exploit advanced manufacturing technology.
  • Robots are not stealing manufacturing jobs – More than one-third of U.S. manufacturers believe that the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies will result in their hiring additional employees, while 45 percent said it will have no impact on hiring. Only 17 percent said it will result in hiring fewer employees.
  • Advanced technology is changing job requirements and descriptions – Nearly three-quarters of non-factory floor level jobs like R&D, mechanical engineering, and prototype design, are being filled by those with post-secondary school educations. Of those hired by manufacturers in 2015 for jobs on the non-factory floor, 47 percent had a vocational / junior college degree, 20 percent had a four-year college degree and 9 percent had an advanced degree.
  • Training the next generation of talent – PwC’s report shows that almost three-quarters of U.S. manufacturers are training in-house to raise their employee’s advanced manufacturing skills, followed by recruiting local STEM students (40 percent) and offering outside vocational training (40 percent). Interestingly, manufacturers do not agree on exactly which level of worker will take the lead on advancing manufacturing – half of those surveyed say it’ll be engineers and 40 percent say it will be skilled production workers.

So how can manufacturers creatively attract a new workforce? Technology like 3D printing and the rise of the maker generation and the gig economy is helping start-ups build innovative prototypes and products that only large manufacturers could do previously. This may be a win-win for manufacturers, as these makers design, build and prototype products, they may look to manufacturers to help scale up. Furthermore, as the Gen Z generation enters the job market, manufactures will need to shape this next generation that will be the new face of manufacturing.

To learn more about our POV on how to tackle the manufacturing talent challenge, visit:


One comment

  1. I love what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve added you guys to
    my blogroll.

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