Filling the Skilled Labor Gap in Manufacturing

Manufacturing is one of the most innovative and diverse industries today. Streamlined processes and new technology have transformed the landscape; yet attracting qualified candidates remains a challenge. According to the 2016 State of Manufacturing Survey the majority of Minnesota manufacturing firms are dealing with this issue. 1 Firms need to creatively market themselves to attract prospective employees and distinguish themselves from their competitors. 

Minnesota - State of Manufacturing and attracting qualified candidates
Source: 2016 State of Manufacturing

Tips: Think Outside the Box

  1. Get Involved. Beyond ads on job boards, get involved in the community. Volunteer, join races, host events. Be known as a company who is an active, living-breathing entity, not just that building off that country road.
  2. Embrace Education. Work with local schools and training centers. Be a guest speaker in their classrooms and offer scholarships and internships. Being able to see a clear path to a job is extremely important to students. Currently, only one-third of all MN manufacturing firms are working with their local educational institutions. 
  3. Be a resource. Go to job fairs, offer a chance to the local high school shop class to tour your facility. Show the community what manufacturing really looks like. If they can envision what it will look like to work there, they are far more likely to apply.

Training is expensive, but so is turnover. Investing in a candidate up front shows them that you believe in their potential and that your company is one that is devoted to ensuring employees’ continued success. By providing access to training you will create a pipeline of future employees for yourself. Once hired, don’t stop providing continued educational opportunities for every level of the operation. Alarmingly, this is not the norm as 68% of firms answered “no” in the 2016 State of Manufacturing. 3

Training and development will only make you more relevant and more competitive. Invest in your prospects your employees, and your management. It will pay off tenfold.


1. “The State of Manufacturing 2016.” Enterprise Minnesota. March 2016.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.

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