Posted on 13 Dec 21byBrian Carberry

The manufacturing industry is seeing a revitalization across America. Worker and supply shortages during the pandemic have led to incredible demand for goods, especially as workforces have received vaccinations and economies have reopened. To meet this demand, many manufacturers are scaling up production, and that means hiring new workers.

However, light industrial operators are still struggling with the same problems of worker retention and finding qualified employees to fill their roles as they did before the pandemic began. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual separation rate across all manufacturing industries hit 44.3% in 2020, which is a five-year high.

One solution for manufacturers to combat this separation rate, whether it occurs in food packing or product assembly, is to provide career advancement or professional development opportunities. Here are three ways that your manufacturing organization will benefit from upskilling and reskilling your workforce.

1. Retain Top Performers, Especially Younger Workers

According to a case study by the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one-fourth of all manufacturing workers are at least 55 years old, meaning they will be retiring in the next decade or so.

The best way to replace your aging workforce is to fill open job opportunities with existing younger employees who have the training and experience in your light industrial operation. Then backfill their roles with entry-level hourly workers. Many younger employees would actually welcome this opportunity and are more likely to stick around if given the chance for career growth. Research from The Manufacturing Institute found that nearly 70% of employees under the age of 25 said training and career opportunities were primary factors for staying with their current employer.

2. Attract a More Diverse Workforce

For generations, the manufacturing and light industrial workforces have traditionally been dominated by males. As recently as 2016, women made up about 30% of the manufacturing workforce, a number that has stayed constant since the 1970s.

As more organizations across the country emphasize diversity and inclusion in their workforces, career growth opportunities have become a main driver to attract female employees. According to a recent Thomas Industrial Survey, more than a quarter of women in manufacturing found mentorships as a valuable resource for upskilling, but fewer than 50% of women have a mentor.

In addition, the survey found many women desire roles with more flexibility, family benefits, and work-life balance. Training programs provide an opportunity for women to advance to a position that may offer some of these highly desired benefits.

3. Improve Product Quality and Productivity

While training programs are proven to help with worker retention, another benefit of upskilling your workforce comes with your production itself. It should be no surprise that the more talented and trained your workforce is, the more productive and efficient they’ll be in their roles. Providing your employees the necessary skills they need for their roles will help improve your product quality and allow your teams to be more efficient and effective.

There are many benefits to upskilling and reskilling your light industrial workforce. Improving employee retention will help keep your top performers in your operation and help you to attract younger and more diverse candidates for your open roles. In addition, you’ll notice positive changes in productivity and efficiency throughout your operation.

If you need more information about building an employee training program at your light industrial organization, we can help. Our experts are ready to help you develop strategies to keep your best employees in place.

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Brian Carberryis an award-winning journalist and content creator based in Atlanta. He specializes in career and workplace trends, business solutions, and the rental housing market. His work has been featured in CNN, Forbes, Fox Business, Wall Street Journal, and hundreds of local media outlets across the country. 

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