Tech Training Lacking for Most U.S. Manufacturers: 5 Ways To Address Skills Gap


Technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, automation, and data analytics have restructured the very foundation of the manufacturing industry. Integration of advanced digital tech has made Industry 5.0 a real deal. It has redefined the boundaries of the workforce and workplace.

Although the manufacturing sector has been keen on adopting new technologies, the task force faces the serious challenge of absorbing them. Organizations have a key role to play when it comes to training their employees to get their heads around complex technologies. However, according to a December 2022 research report by Visual Components, which surveyed 360 manufacturing decision makers from the U.S., U.K., and Europe, about 46% of the organizations fail to invest in training programs that impart skills to the staff on upcoming technologies.

The findings also reveal that three in ten (30%) executives believed that their labor force lacked the necessary skills to use robotics and automations at their manufacturing facilities. The situation reflected the overwhelming consequences of ignoring the essential training programs by manufacturing industries.

While it is important to apply the right kind of technology to legacy processes to increase productivity, it is equally vital to invest in upskilling and training the people that execute these processes. To add to this concern, the manufacturing industry has been battling labor shortages for the past couple of years.

According to a May 2021 research by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, it is estimated that close to 2.1 million job openings in the U.S. could go unfilled by 2030 due to the skill gaps among workers. According to another 2021 survey by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), about 80% of companies in the U.S. find it hard to hire and retain a highly skilled workforce.

Considering the upheavals that the manufacturing sector is facing right now, organizations must devise strategies not just to attract but also to hold onto quality personnel.

See More: Industry 4.0: The Next Stage of Automation

5 Ways U.S. Manufacturers Can Narrow Down Technology Skills Gap

Today, as the recession risk looms large, manufacturers can invest in upskilling and training existing employees rather than hiring new people to improve productivity. It also creates a stable work environment with a focus on labor retention and reskilling. Let’s understand key strategies organizations can implement to elevate employee skills.

1. Create training programs

Small and medium-sized manufacturers can focus on creating effective training programs that not just keep the employees engaged but also serve the future business goal. This may include process training or safety training, for instance. Process training could give employees hands-on experience with complex processes, while safety training could teach employees best practices that keep them safe on the job.

Additionally, reskilling programs could introduce workers to new technologies or software that were never used in the facilities before.

2. Employ apprenticeship programs 

As manufacturing technology continues to advance, the fundamental skill set required for the job has become more complex. Moreover, experienced staff from older generations are retiring. One solution to such challenges is that manufacturers employ apprenticeship programs. Such programs offer on-job learning that trains and mentors high-performing staff within an organization. The learnings can fine-tune the customized skills imparted to specific workers, which the companies may need in the near future.

3. Leverage advanced tech

Manufacturers can use advanced technologies, such as AR and VR, to train employees. It not just provides a safe learning environment but also enables remote training of the task force. Moreover, such methods are cost-effective when compared to real-life manufacturing scenarios.

4. Use lean manufacturing principles 

Lean manufacturing refers to production methods that elevate overall productivity while keeping a check on wastes generated during the operation. Organizations can align their training and Q&A sessions with such principles that increase value. When coupled with lean practices, flexible training programs that aim for continuous improvement can deliver excellent results.

5. Use MEP National Network

In the U.S., the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers partner with local educational and economic development institutions to train the workforce based on the company’s needs. MEP engages with small and medium-sized manufacturers to train employees with skills like team building, problem-solving, lean processes, supervisory skills, and several others.

Moreover, MEP also offers apprenticeship programs and customized reskilling sessions tailored to specific organizations. Hence, manufacturers can rely on MEP to train unskilled manpower.

See More: A Quick Guide to Smart Manufacturing


Considering the prospects of Industry 5.0, manufacturers need to integrate effective training programs and certifications that seem relevant and exciting and have an impact on the staff. With this, organizations can benefit from new skill sets while adopting modern tech like automation and robotics that position businesses for continued success.

Can investing in upskilling allow the manufacturing sector to thrive in the new industrial age? Comment below or let us know on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or LinkedInOpens a new window . We’d love to hear from you!