The Carnegie quote comes to mind when looking at what some see as the dire news of a growing gap. The workforce needs of manufacturing sector employers exceed the number of those with the interest and capabilities to do the work. The research conducted in a 2021 partnership of Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute estimates that by 2030 2.1 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled. After setting the stage for a traditional hiring pool, we will look at expanding this to include candidate groups that have been largely ignored in the past in subsequent weeks.
"If you have a lemon, make a lemonade." - Dale Carnegie
With an average age of 66, many in this generation have delayed their post-career plans and continue working. However, their retirement looms, leaving little time to resolve the growing gap between needs and job candidates. There is an expected retirement of 2.6 million baby boomers in the coming decade. Moreover, the task will become even more challenging with projections of limited candidates interested in replacing them.
Revisiting Albert Einstein's quote of "insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results" comes to mind with the growing employment gap. I see those charged with hiring new employees continuing to do what has led to this ever-increasing employment gap that some see as a weakness or threat. I suggest looking at this as an opportunity to make a meaningful societal difference. We can find our "noble purpose" where the manufacturing industry should shift from the past of a primary workforce of white men. Instead, work toward one where all potential employees are not only welcomed but encouraged to join our organizations. The challenge is difficult, but nothing meaningful in life is seldom otherwise.
I am an older white male and certainly not a minority. I have benefited from carrying around what Peggy McIntosh wrote in White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. She described it as "a set of unearned assets that a white person in America can count on cashing in each day but to which they remain largely oblivious." I will never fully understand what other races and ethnicities experience. An example of racial bias is studies showing it is more difficult for non-white-sounding names to get a resume callback. One benefit of age is that I am now aware and need to look at ways to make a difference for those without my advantage. Other groups that suffer inequality in the manufacturing sector include women, those with disabilities, the neurodiverse, returning citizens, and military veterans. We will explore options to fill the employment gap with more significant opportunities for those that have not been wearing an "invisible knapsack."
"It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority." The quote is from Lord Acton, "the magistrate of history," a nineteenth-century Englishman who recognized that the majority was doing wrong when subjugating a minority group. As a white male from the Midwest, I reflect on a nearly 30-year manufacturing career focused mainly on the automotive industry. My experience was seeing very few minority coworkers beyond some shop floor employees. Yet, all these years later, we continue to do what is "worse" to our fellow citizens.
The manufacturing industry faces a significant challenge in meeting employment needs, with a projected 2.1 million unfilled jobs in 2030. While technology may eliminate part of the gap, we will continue to need to attract a qualified workforce. Expanding our employment pools beyond a past practice of disability-free white males is necessary to close the shortfall balance.
The Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute research report includes content on the growing need for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the manufacturing sector. In addition, those interested in exploring recommendations for creating a more diverse workforce can read The Importance of Manufacturing Industry Diversity by Deloitte.
I am grateful to organizations like Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute that continue to explore the employment gap. They continue to conduct necessary research and provide possible solutions that progressive organizations will consider adopting to entice sufficient interest from suitable job candidates.
Next week's blog will focus on making the manufacturing industry more attractive to potential Black employees. Establishing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization is crucial to the humanist manufacturing framework.
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