Manufacturing Today - January/February 2016 - 13

TOM BONINE | COLUMN BY

Tom Bonine is president of National Metal Fabricators. The

Chicago area firm, established in 1944, offers custom fabrication,
angle rings, welding and bar milling services. For more information,
visit nmfrings.com.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 manufacturing-today.com

13

E MPLOYEES

More and more people are opting for
self-employment and part-time work.
They may have been forced into working part time during the last recession, but many found they enjoyed the
freedom and have continued to work
as contractors - even as the economy
has improved.
Consider making some full-time
manufacturing slots open to contractors, consultants or temporary
and part-time workers. Two or more
part-time workers may be no more
expensive than one full-time equivalent, and you will have a flexible,
adaptable workforce.
Hiring skilled workers isn't easy,
and the shortage is not a problem that
will be solved over night. However,
using some creativity and ingenuity
will help bridge the gap. mt

D IALOGUE

C ONTENTS

The Gig Workforce

T ECHNOLOGY

N EWS

Currently, most manufacturing companies work on a global basis, and in
many parts of the world the competition for skilled workers is fierce indeed. It's not uncommon in some plac-

are on par with nearby companies, but
they also need to ensure that their corporate culture is caring and respectful.
People will leave for the money, but
they stay for the culture.

P R O F I TA B I L I T Y

Global Competition

the solution is to work
with community leaders
to change the perception
of manufacturing, and
to demonstrate what a
rewarding and lucrative
career it can be.
AH
S R EXPO 2016

The U.S. educational system has
fallen short in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training, and as a result, many students
graduate from high school or college
without the skills they need to fill
modern jobs. Even in manufacturing,
jobs today require more technology
and matching skills than ever before
to deal with computer-driven equip-

es for skilled workers to receive job
offers from competitors every week.
To retain skilled workers, companies
need to ensure that pay and benefits

C ANADA MANUFACTURING

Educational Inadequacies

Much of manufacturing is not the demanding, manual labor of the past.
Now, manufacturing in many industries relies on technology and the
ability to follow processes more than
it does on the ability to lift large components into place. While there will
always be a degree of physical labor in
some industries, more and more work
is being accomplished using robots,
self-driving trams, and material carts
and computers.
Manufacturers who are fortunate
enough to be in this position have an
even harder time attracting skilled
workers, many of whom may look
down on manufacturing, believing it
to be a manual role unworthy of their
skills. Those who don't have the same
skills are not qualified.
The solution, again, is to work with
community leaders to change the
perception of manufacturing, and to
demonstrate what a rewarding and lucrative career it can be.

B UY AMERICAN

As disillusionment with the once hot
offshoring movement set in, companies began to pull work back on shore.
However, after years of dismal job
prospects, many workers made career
changes and have left manufacturing.
During the manufacturing low days,
many critical skills have been lost and
it will take years to re-develop them.
In the interim, employers can expedite
the process with on-the-job training
programs and community outreach
programs. Leveraging skills from longterm employees to help train new employees will also help the comeback.

Technology Advances

S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

Reshoring

ment such as CNC machines, 3-D
printers and nanotechnology. Most
manufacturers also place a heavy
emphasis on quality management,
including Six Sigma and SPC techniques, which may require frequent
mathematical calculations.
Working with local school systems,
community colleges and educational
institutions to develop core curricula and remedial programs can help
give younger workers the skills they
need to be successful in manufacturing today.

SERVICE

their hard won expertise and skills
with them. In fact, the unemployment
rate for workers over 55 is currently
3.7 percent and for workers between
20 and 25, it is 10.1 percent. Workers over 45 make up 51 percent of the
workforce, and employers are hanging on to those skilled workers as long
as they can.
Many of those workers would like
to continue working, but not at the
same pace they did at earlier career
stages. Companies should institute
flexible schedules to make staying on
the job more attractive to aging workers. In addition, developing mentorship or on-the-job training programs
would help with knowledge transfer
to younger workers.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - January/February 2016

Contents
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2016 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2016 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2016 - 1
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