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Workforce Strategies

5 Ways to Solve Your Workforce Shortage

By Lisa Derby Oden, Workforce Program Coordinator, MassMEP

It seems that everyone is struggling with a workforce shortage these days. This is primarily a result of low unemployment, retiring baby boomers, and lack of interest or negative understanding about manufacturing careers. There are ways to solve this challenge for your company. Some are strategies that you can tackle now and will be able to see the result in the short-term. Others relate to taking the long view and the big picture into consideration. The following five suggestions involve a combination of both short and long-term strategies.

1. Train new hires and incumbent employees

If you are struggling to find the skilled prospects to bring on board, build your own. Look for individuals that you know will make a good employee – they have a good attitude, are willing to learn, and are dependable. There are basic manufacturing training opportunities provided by MassMEP, vocational technical schools, community colleges and other training providers that can teach the foundation skills required.

Upskill your incumbent workforce. This will help you to keep abreast of technology changes as you adopt the change. It has the added benefit of increasing your employee engagement, which results in better retention.

2. Develop an in-house apprentice program

If employees know that there are steps they can take to advance within the company, they will be more likely to engage in the process. By developing "career pathways" you can demonstrate clearly the ways that employees can be involved in their own growth. Outlining the skills and competencies required and a training mentor to achieve them, you can build an internal apprentice program.

3. Become an "Employer of Choice"

Wouldn't it be great if your company was the one that everyone wanted to work at? There is no reason that you can't be. An "employer of choice" has an extraordinary work environment, new applicants seek you out when looking for work, and highly skilled incumbent employees choose to stay even when courted by other employers. Great pay, benefits, ongoing training, recognition, holiday and sick time are part of the picture. Being at the cutting edge of manufacturing also provides a good incentive. This can be achieved by being invested in Manufacturing USA institutes. These initiatives may also prove to be a good draw for millennials.

4. Participate in Manufacturing Your Career LINK

This initiative will help you to educate young, potential employees about your business and manufacturing careers. MassMEP will be introducing The Manufacturing Your Career LINK, a database that lists each manufacturer and provides links to their website and any videos or media they would like to share. It will be used to educate high school students and their teacher/parents/guidance counselors about the huge variety of jobs that are involved throughout manufacturing businesses, list current entry-level positions that student/graduates may be able to fill, indicates types of outreach each company is willing to provide to schools like, tours, mentoring, making presentations, co-op or internships, and provide a company contact person that the students/schools will contact directly. For more information contact Karen Myhaver at karenm@massmep.org.

5. Get involved in Manufacturing Day

Manufacturing Day occurs nationwide on the first Friday in October. In Massachusetts October was declared Manufacturing Month. Events are held at manufacturers on Manufacturing Day and throughout the month of October, giving them an opportunity to invite the community into their company to show what manufacturing is all about. This helps to address misconceptions that exist about manufacturing which helps in tackling the skilled labor shortage.  

If you'd like to discuss how to solve your workforce shortage, please contact MassMEP at 508-831-7020.

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