ATS survey underscores critical need for skilled workers at U.S. factories as baby boomers retire

Manufacturing executives estimate retiring workers will cost their companies an average of $43 million each year over the next five years and that training budgets aren’t sufficient.

03/16/2011


As the first wave of U.S. Baby Boomers begin retiring this year, American manufacturing companies are highly concerned with their ability to find skilled workers, according to the results of a survey of industry senior executives commissioned by Advanced Technology Services, Inc. (ATS) and conducted by The Nielsen Company, a consulting and custom research firm. Among the survey’s key findings, the pending retirement of highly skilled Baby Boomer workers will cost manufacturing companies $43 million each, on average—with nearly one in five estimating their cost at over $100 million.

Many companies (58% of all respondents) are expecting to train and educate the next generation of skilled workers—defined as those qualified in machine calibration, electrical systems, machine operation, tool and die manufacturing and machine maintenance—themselves. However, funding is inadequate; half of those executives surveyed said their training budget was only 1 to 5%.

“Despite the perception that U.S. manufacturing jobs are scarce, the undeniable trend is that skilled workers will be in very short supply in coming years,” said ATS President Jeffrey Owens. “What’s more, while much of the political debate centers around healthcare and basic or higher education, what matters to most manufacturing employers is vocational training.”

The online survey, completed this month, found that two in three respondents agree that a robust training program is key to the future of U.S. manufacturing, and 90% feel high schools are not doing enough to prepare students for non-college careers. Executives stated that discrete (product-centric) manufacturing, electrical equipment manufacturing and motor vehicle parts manufacturing are the top areas most affected by the nascent labor shortage.

Other top findings from the survey:

  • Among CEOs taking part in the survey, the estimated per-company cost of the skilled labor shortage is even higher: $63 million, on average.
  • Most costs will be incurred in training and recruiting, followed by problems caused by lower quality and resulting decreases in customer satisfaction.
  • 20% of respondents currently have more than 15 job openings on their factory floor. Over twice as many (41%) anticipate having more than 15 such job openings within five years.
  • On the question of how important production machine maintenance is to achieving lean manufacturing, “very important” was checked by nearly 70% of those surveyed.
  • On a positive note, 77% of surveyed executives agreed that the technical skills of U.S. military veterans transfer well to today’s manufacturing needs.

The ATS survey included responses from 103 senior manufacturing executives with the title of Vice President, Plant Manager or CEO. Eighteen percent worked at manufacturing companies with revenues of $1 billion or higher; surveys were completed by individuals representing over two dozen manufacturing industry verticals.

www.AdvancedTech.com

Advanced Technology Services, Inc.

- Edited by Amanda McLeman, Plant Engineering, www.plantengineering.com



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.