How the Halt in Hiring Affects the Future of Manufacturing
From August 2017 through February 2019, the manufacturing sector saw an almost unprecedented continuous rise in factory hiring. It was a rise that added a total of 410,000 jobs, the most impressive since an August 1993 to February 1995 streak generated 526,000 new jobs. These were the biggest expansions since the 1980s. Then, suddenly and without warning, it all came to a grinding halt.
In March 2019, the sector lost 60,000 jobs, sending waves of confusion and concern through the industry. Many who thought the new administration had finally set things back on the right track when it came to manufacturing had been forced to reconsider. What’s going to happen with hiring now in the manufacturing world? Is this a boom and bust situation or just a minor correction?
What’s Happening in Manufacturing?
Fortunately, a look at the larger picture suggests it is probably the latter. For example, general employment growth, which had not been performing as well as manufacturing, started to turn around in March.
It’s important to examine the factors that may have been involved in the hiring slow-down so manufacturing can know what to expect. One possibility is a dip in auto sales. Some auto manufacturers are cutting workers dramatically in order to deal with lower sales and an abundance in inventory. This means if you are not in the automobile sector, the hiring slow-down may not affect you.
Others say there are simply not enough workers worth hiring. Even some in the automobile sector say there just aren’t enough skilled workers willing to pursue these jobs. That could mean manufacturers simply need to find more creative ways of locating, training and/or motivating new manufacturing employees.
Finally, some point out that it’s important not to read too much from one data point. After months and months of unchecked growth, a month of reversal is nothing to get too excited about — and perhaps even to be expected.
What Does the Future Hold for Manufacturing?
While manufacturers shouldn’t think that the halt in hiring means the sky is falling, it’s important to keep an eye on the situation. The hiring halt should be a wakeup call for factory managers that they need to stay innovative.
That can take the form of measures such as making sure your factory is using the most modern technology possible. While automation can take some jobs away, it can also create jobs, allowing you to expand and generate new positions, including those involving controlling the machines.
Automation can also take the form of finding new ways to educate and train the factory workers of the future. Factory work is becoming less appealing with the rise of technology and new forms of automation. So, savvy manufacturing managers need to think of ways to get the next generation interested in the industry, whether through outreach, internship programs or other ideas.
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