Why Are Manufacturing Workers So Hard to Find

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America’s economy is slowly re-opening and there is a surge in the demand for goods. Companies are looking for workers and individuals who were previous unemployed and are now seeking jobs. Manufacturing activity has reached record highs, however the industry cannot find candidates to fill more than a half a million job openings ranging from specialized to entry level roles.  Why is that?  With a clear supply and demand of jobs it shouldn’t be an issue to find candidates.  Here are a few reasons why manufacturing workers are so hard to find.

Job Security

Artificial Intelligence and robots are streamlining processes, and this creates a fear that positions in the manufacturing sector will be automated, minimizing the need for the human factory line worker.  This, however, isn’t the case. Yes, a robot can do simple and monotonous tasks, but human workers are needed for their creativity and problem-solving skills.  Another fear is that a lot of the positions will be shipped overseas due to the cheaper labor costs.  While some companies may outsource some of their labor overseas, there are still domestic manufacturing roles that need to be filled.  Parents aren’t encouraging their children to go into manufacturing careers due to the fear that it isn’t a guaranteed long-term career.  When factories shut down in the 70’s and 80’s a lot of people were out of jobs.  It makes more sense in the long-term to push their children toward a career option where they won’t have to worry about potential layoffs.

Employees Want Remote Work

Restrictions are easing, however new variants of Covid-19 and other risk factors, a lot of workers aren’t quite ready for that pre-pandemic exposure that occurs in the workplace.  A lot of companies have found that they can still function in a remote status and are offering workers the option to stay home.   In addition, some workers are even demanding to continue their employment in a remote status.  There are individuals who prefer to work on site, however some have reported a better work/life balance with the ability to work remotely. With one out of every ten positions offering remote work, a lot of job seekers are taking their chances with finding a position that truly suits their wants and needs.

Public Perception

During the industrial revolution, manufacturing was a well-respected position.  It was honest work helping to build the economy and you were able to provide for your family.  Now, the perception isn’t the same.  People view manufacturing and labor work as a low status position.  In addition, a lot of young Americans do not want to work in factories.  Why would you sign up to do a physical job when you can work from your computer in another sector?  There are also issues with manufacturing factories forcing undesirable working conditions on their employees such as long shifts, minimal days off and forced overtime.  With publicity like that, it is hard for an industry to recover.

With the automation of factory line tasks, the undesirable perception of factory work, and the preference for remote work is it possible for the manufacturing industry to recover? Only time will tell.


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