Reshoring? Thoughts on Combatting the Skilled Worker Shortage

Lower domestic energy costs, a move towards customization, and a desire for a more nimble supply chain are just a few of the factors leading companies to consider bringing their manufacturing operations closer to home.
But for all its benefits, reshoring is not an initiative to be taken lightly. There are a number of things to consider – from service levels, to supply chain logistics, to necessary investments in labor, equipment, and space. Of all of these, labor is the least predictable. According to an article published in Forbes, manufacturing and the skilled trades is, “the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff with skilled talent.”
Because of this it is important for manufacturers to develop strategies to overcome the skills gap.

Manufacturing Trends and News’ post Reshoring: 6 ways to overcome shortages of skilled workers offers insight into some of the strategies companies have used to combat the problem.

Look Within Your Organization

Reinvent the company – Take a hard look at your organizational structure – consider career tracks that focus on skills rather than functions. This will provide more flexibility and open up more opportunities for personal growth.
Reassess employees – You may be surprised at how many people within your organization are working below potential. Survey employees to uncover hidden talent or ambition.

Recruit & Retrain

Recruit capacity to learn – Hire for aptitude. Not skillset. Look for leadership, problem solving, analytical skills and technology skills.
Redeploy skills – Consider looking outside of manufacturing when hiring seasoned workers, as many skillsets may be transferrable.
Retrain – collaborate with career centers to recruit and retrain the unemployed. “Be proactive to provide for upskilling of workers and to make them aware of the need of ongoing training.”

Reach Beyond the Borders

Recruit foreign workers – As author, John Fossey wrote, “A simple reality is that if there is a shortage of workers with certain skills then bringing in foreigners with those skills will complement our workforce, not compete with it.”

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While all of all of the suggestions have merit, perhaps the most important is the idea of reassessing (and then re-training) your current workforce.    This is because most organizations have latent talent and skills readily available within their operation, they just don’t realize it.   And, in a time where talent is scarce and training is expensive, it makes much more sense to invest in individuals who have already proven to be loyal, competent employees than it does to invest in the unknown.

Partner Strategically

The second half of the “promote from within” equation is filling the spaces left at the bottom.  Many companies have found that rather than spend time and effort staffing to fill lower value activities, it makes sense to outsource them (locally, not globally) and free up their labor pool and assets to concentrate on the highest value add areas.

Interested in learning more? G&D can assist in several ways, including Manufacturing Logistics Services, Distribution and Aftermarket Parts Distribution, Transportation.

Get in touch today.