Manufacturers Report Difficulty Hiring

SHRM poll: Skills gap creates recruiting challenge for two-thirds of those hiring.

April 13, 2012
Manufacturing Group

More than two-thirds of the manufacturers that were hiring late last year reported difficulty finding skilled workers for specific openings, according to Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) research.

The second of eight industry-specific SHRM poll findings on how the recession is impacting employers showed that three-quarters (75%) of respondents from the manufacturing industry were hiring in fall 2011. That was an increase from 51% in 2010.

But 68% of those hiring reported difficulty recruiting for specific job openings. The positions most difficult to fill in the manufacturing industry were high-skilled technical for example, technicians and programmers (89%); engineers (88%); skilled trades (electricians and carpenters) (83%); and managers and executives (80%). 

The findings are from SHRM’s Ongoing Impact of the Recession Poll, which surveyed 360 randomly selected HR professionals from the manufacturing industry in late August and early September 2011.

The skills gap in manufacturing and practices and resources to overcome it will be explored in an interactive half-day summit at SHRM’s Annual Conference. With the U.S. Department of Labor, SHRM will present “Keeping America Competitive: Addressing the skills gap in manufacturing” from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

The SHRM poll showed that organizations were seeing knowledge gaps in job applicants, including mathematics (60%); writing in English (40%); and reading comprehension (40%). The top skills gap in manufacturing industry: critical thinking and problem solving (59%); teamwork (45%); leadership (42%); and written communications and professionalism (each 39%).

Other findings on manufacturing include:
•    When recruiting for jobs that required new and different skills, more organizations were having difficulty finding qualified individuals in 2011 (72%) compared to 2010 (43%).

•    Manufacturers were hiring non-management hourly employees (85%); non-management salaried employees (64%); and directors and managers (54%).

•    Forty-four percent of organizations reported hiring military veterans for key jobs that had been difficult to fill. In addition, 18% say they were considering hiring veterans, and 4% reported plans to do so in the next 12 months.