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Supply Chain News: Perceptions of Manufacturing Work Improving, but not Fast Enough


Good News: Rising Percent of Parents would Encourage Kids to Pursue Manufacturing Careers

April 20, 2022
SCDigest Editorial Staff

The consultants from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute (an arm of the National Association of Manufacturers, or NAM) are fresh out with a new study about perceptions in the US relative to manufacturing.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

In the negative side, a large 58% of those who said they are familiar with manufacturing said that manufacturing jobs have limited career prospects.

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The new 2022 study – based on data collected via survey in 2021 - is a repeat of a similar effort in 2017.

The issue is an important one, as it is logical that perceptions of manufacturing will have a likely significant impact on how white and blue collar workers view careers in the sector – a timely issue given the more than 800,000 current US job openings in manufacturing that are proving very difficult to fill.

The good news: the large survey that forms the basis of the report shows perceptions of manufacturing have improved significantly over the past four years

For example, the survey found that 64% of current respondents believe US manufacturing jobs are creative, innovative, and involve problem-solving skills, up significantly from 39% who felt that way in 2017.

And in a very important metric, 40% current respondents are likely to encourage their children to consider jobs in manufacturing, up solidly from 27% five years ago.

That said, the report says there is still an important perception gap, noting that: “Even as domestic manufacturing is viewed as increasingly important to the economy, public perceptions of manufacturing are not in-line with current reality.”

The report notes that job expectations by US workers have changed a lot just since 2017. Today, many workers have expectations in areas such as well-being; diversity, equity and inclusion; flexible schedules; work at home options and proximity to work from home; and other newer areas versus the areas of pay, benefits and career opportunities that used to drive job attractiveness. While those traditional areas are still important, they are often considered along with the newer age criteria.

So, obviously, manufacturers must adapt both in impression and reality to these new job hunting factors.

(Article Continues Below)



“To drive the desired business outcome, manufacturers should focus on elevating the workforce experience as well as recasting perceptions of the industry," the report states.

And on the negative side, a large 58% of those who said they are familiar with manufacturing said that manufacturing jobs have limited career prospects.

Also, manufacturing plants are often located in more rural areas, with lower local populations, now a barrier to fielding enough workers. Reaching out to areas further out from the plant for workers now runs into issues with long commute times.

As a result, the report says, some manufacturers are offering workers four 10-hour shifts or even three 12-hour shifts.

The chart below interestingly shows different tactics for improving the worker experience and then offering more flexibility to workers, and the percent of executive support for each.


In the end, the report recommends manufacturers make improvements along the following framework:

Engage: Identify and pursue channels/opportunities that can help connect and attract potential new sources of talent.

Evolve: Recognize retraining talent and upgrading processesto help transform both workers and work.

Involve: Form new connections and better understand the needs of the current talent pool; use the insights to make better informed decisions.

Many examples of potential initiatives for each of those three strategy vectors is offered in the report.

The full report can be downloaded here: Competing for Talent: Recasting Perceptions of Manufacturing

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