Report: Hiring and retention still challenging for manufacturers

April 5, 2024
Almost 2 million jobs could go unfilled by 2033, according to research by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte.

Almost 2 million manufacturing jobs could be unfilled by 2033, according to a new study by the Manufacturing Institute (MI) and consulting firm Deloitte.  

According to “Taking charge: Manufacturers support growth with active workforce strategies,” with the exception of the period during the pandemic, employers have reported workforce challenges among their top concerns since the last quarter of 2017. Sixty-five percent of respondents in the National Association of Manufacturers' 2024 Q1 outlook said attracting and retaining talent is their primary business challenge.  

To overcome hurdles in attracting and retaining workers, plastics manufacturers have adopted a number of strategies, offering an array of novel perksenhancing training programs, and embracing diversity and automation.  

But, according to MI and Deloitte’s report, the challenges are likely to persist. By 2033, U.S. manufacturers could need as many as 3.8 million new employees. About half that number — 1.9 million jobs — could go unfilled. 

The jobs likely to grow at the fastest pace include statisticians, data scientists, engineers, logisticians, computer and information systems managers, software developers and maintenance technicians. The fastest-growing production roles likely will be those that require higher-level skills, including machinists and first-line supervisors.  

According to Deloitte research, employees are 2.7 times less likely to leave their job in the next 12 months if they feel they can acquire necessary skills that are important for the future. 

The report is based on an online survey of more than 200 U.S. manufacturers, interviews with senior executives from manufacturing organizations of all sizes and across all sectors, analysis of secondary data on labor supply and demand, and analysis from Deloitte's economic team. 

Of the employers surveyed, more than nine in 10 said they are forming at least one partnership to improve job attraction and retention, and on average, they are partnering with four or more. Partners include technical colleges, industry associations, universities, state and regional economic development agencies. Forty-seven percent surveyed expressed support for apprenticeships, work studies and internships. 

The report states that “investments in skills and strategies that address the workforce's evolving expectations, including flexibility and technology, could be pivotal to how manufacturers position themselves for success,” according to a press release.