At a time when technological innovations offer new growth opportunities for the manufacturing sector, a lack of talent from “rising generations” threatens its future vitality, according to ThomasNet.com’sIndustry Market Barometer (IMB) research.
The annual survey of more than 1,200 American manufacturers paints a picture of an industry that is thriving and reinventing itself every day, but is in danger of slowing down if it doesn’t replenish its talent pool.
Most of these respondents are from small and mid-size manufacturing companies, representative of their sector. Research shows that over half (55 percent) of these companies grew in 2012, and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) expect to grow this year. Nearly seven out of 10 will introduce new or innovative products/services this year.
The research also reveals a “disconnect” between the growth of these manufacturers and their lack of urgency when it comes to bringing in fresh talent to carry them forward. The survey respondents mirror today’s manufacturing workforce, which is heavily populated by employees who are 45 and older. With Generation Y projected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, manufacturers need a collective “succession plan” to maintain their momentum. Yet, eight out of 10 respondents report that this generation represents a small fraction of their employee base, and most don’t see that changing soon. In short, despite more opportunity ahead, manufacturing’s biological clock is silently ticking away, according to research.
“As a foundation of our economy, the manufacturing sector remains vibrant, but cracks are coming to the surface,” said Eileen Markowitz, president of ThomasNet. Changes in the workforce demographics and old attitudes about manufacturing as a career threaten the industry’s expansion. It’s time for those who love American manufacturing to double their efforts to engage the next generation.”
Download a complimentary report on the IMB findings here.