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America’s Got Talent? Building the Manufacturing Workforce

By Erin O'Donnell .

It’s no secret that in this post pandemic world the needs and expectations amongst employers and employees have drastically changed. With the hybrid working environment here to stay, employee willingness to work for companies with such flexibility, in the hopes of achieving more of a work-life balance and reducing commutes, has increased, leaving scarcity in the talent pool for manufacturers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual rate of change in employment for the manufacturing industry is projected to be negative through 2032. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, through August 2023, 616,000 total manufacturing job openings were yet to be filled.

Upskilling and reskilling your workforce

These issues bring up an important question for owners and C-suite executives: what can be done to hire and retain skilled workers and top talent? The most profound answer has been to upskill and reskill your existing workforce. Manufacturing companies within are at a pivotal moment in which such an undertaking is in the realm of possibility with an increased focus and use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other smart factory technologies. Investments in such areas have shown to not only allow companies to automate jobs roles that are currently unfilled, but also repurpose their existing workforce in a more efficient and meaningful capacity. Employees that may have historically been involved in repetitive, menial tasks can be upskilled and reskilled to take on a multitude of other roles, such as operating and program engineering, quality control, purchasing, managerial/supervisory, or other back-office roles with current job openings.

By offering such avenues for employees to be upskilled and reskilled, the ability to retain talented employees becomes easier, as future career paths are attainable in a culture that promotes employee growth through upskilling.

Investing in technology

Considering the newest generation entering the workforce, Gen Z is expected to make up for a quarter of the global workforce by 2025. Younger generations are particularly focused on work-life balance, constant use of technology, professional growth and development, being mission driven, and being decision makers. They express a desire to be challenged and want cognitive tasks.

A focus on smart technology initiatives not only allows for process automation but also becomes a perk for younger employees looking for employment within the industry. This provides employees with the opportunity to work directly with newly implemented technology, whether on site or remotely, instead of performing monotonous tasks on a production line. Although AI and other machine learning investments can be significant capital expenses, they can improve your business's efficiencies and help attract and retain top talent.

Citrin Cooperman is a full-service accounting firm, offering companies outsourced solutions for their finance and accounting functions, as well as assisting companies in automation design and automation implementation. Our dedicated Manufacturing and Distribution Industry Practice helps businesses and their leadership make informed decisions that improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and ultimately improve the bottom line. For more information, please contact Erin O’Donnell at or your Citrin Cooperman advisor.

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