Manufacturing labor shortage looms in most states, ECI says

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Nearly all states across the U.S. are grappling with a shortage of manufacturing labor, creating a danger that economic growth could stall and hinder supply chains globally, according to a report from the business management software provider ECI Software Solutions. 

The Texas-based firm’s “Manufacturing Jobs Deficit Index” is based on data from the Manufacturing Institute (MI), which is the nonprofit workforce development and education affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Research from MI found that manufacturers will need to fill an extra four million jobs by 2030, over half of which (2.1 million) may go unfilled. 

“Post-pandemic, the demand for manufacturing workers has increased at such a rate that the labor crisis may be getting worse, with our latest research showing the challenges US businesses face in meeting the demand for skilled workers,” Matt Heerey, president of ECI Software Solutions’ Manufacturing Division, said in a release.

“The industry is actively working towards addressing the shortage nationwide, and manufacturing ERP software can help companies to interconnect their software solutions better, remove bottlenecks, and automate manual and operational processes. Ultimately, as baby boomers gradually enter retirement, AI and ERP technology can help manufacturers to better plan, forecast, and leverage their data better to allocate resources, and understand where they can reduce the need for more headcount, and where they need to upskill,” Heerey said. 

The ECI study named several strategies to address the shortage of manufacturing workers:

  • reaching out to young people still in high school and making them aware of the breadth of opportunities in manufacturing. Since the industry is not often typically covered in education, exposing more students to the various career opportunities in the industry could reduce negative perceptions about factory work, and give them a foundation for making their mark in manufacturing.
  • full training and development programs help to upskill existing employees, fill gaps in higher-skilled manufacturing jobs – such as engineering roles – and nurture the new generation of talent.
  • flexible and remote work offerings can play their part in mitigating the labor shortage, as manufacturing companies can attract higher-skilled candidates from other cities and states who may only need to travel on-site once a week, month, or quarter.
  • technology and manufacturing software can contribute to overcoming some of the challenges brought about by the labor shortage, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), robots, and “co-bots” 



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