Will We Have the Talent to Recover?

A recent report on talent skill gaps in the manufacturing industry sponsored by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute indicates that when business picks up we will not have the talent to meet the customer needs. With unemployment hovering around 9%, how can this be?

Furthermore, 67% of skill gap study respondents report a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers and 56% anticipate the shortage to grow worse in the next three to five years…exactly when the recovery will be most demanding. The respondents indicate that “access to a highly skilled, flexible workforce is the most important factor in their effectiveness, ranked above factors such as new product innovation and increased market share by a margin of 20%”.

It makes sense that as manufacturing constricted, key talent either retired or redeployed. To complicate things, during this time manufacturing has changed so much that it’s difficult for talent to keep up or reintegrate within the workplace. The number one skills deficiency highlighted by the survey, among current employees, is problem solving skills. In other words, it is difficult for current employees to adapt to changing needs and solve new problems caused by changing customer needs or competitive products or services. After reading “Do It Right The First Time” in this newsletter we should add problem prevention…

Adding to the problem, it seems some are waiting for the good times to return so we can return to the same practices of the past. What are we (you) doing differently to adapt to the talent needs of the future? Who is responsible and who is going to pay? The answers typically involve industry, learning institutions and government working together to develop and sustain a constant stream of talent ready to meet both current and future customer needs. Where do you begin? Let’s not wait for Congress.

Also, could it be that we are considering the pace of change from the 90’s when we develop our training and development budgets and approach? Obviously, the pace has dramatically accelerated but have we changed or adapted?

It’s hard to believe that we have so many people ready to work and spend money and yet we have no way of deploying this asset. How would you begin? What is missing in your industry or specific business?