Shortage of Skilled Workers Tops Economy for Anticipated Challenge in 2018, according to ASQ Survey

Shortage of Skilled Workers Tops Economy for Anticipated Challenge in 2018, according to ASQ Survey

Manufacturers rely on staffing agency, local colleges to find qualified applicants

Milwaukee, Wis., Nov. 28, 2017 — For the first time since 2013, the shortage of skilled workers overtakes the economy as the greatest hurdle manufacturers anticipate facing in the year ahead, according to the ASQ 2018 Manufacturing Outlook Survey.

According to the survey, 41 percent of manufacturers say finding skilled workers will be the No. 1 challenge in 2018, compared to 30 percent who say the economy will be their biggest hurdle.

In last year’s Manufacturing Outlook Survey, 36 percent of manufacturers said the economy would be the greatest challenge, compared to 30 percent who claimed finding skilled workers would be the biggest hurdle.

“The results of this year’s Manufacturing Outlook Survey are both encouraging and cause for concern,” said ASQ Chair Eric Hayler. “While it’s great that the economy is improving, it’s troubling that manufacturers expect to struggle finding the skilled workers they need to be successful.”

More than 650 manufacturing professionals responded to ASQ’s 2018 Manufacturing Outlook Survey, which was conducted online in October and November. Respondents represent a multitude of industries, including automotive, medical device, aerospace, and oil and gas.

To help find the skilled candidates they currently need, 39 percent of respondents say they have hired an agency to help, while 30 percent are working with local colleges on programs that teach students the skills needed in manufacturing. Fifteen percent of respondents say they enhanced their benefits package to attract qualified candidates.

And while manufacturers are taking necessary steps to hire for vacant positions, fewer manufacturers anticipate having to fill vacant positions due to retirements — 35 percent said it’s very unlikely retirements will affect their organization in 2018, compared to 33 percent who say it will.

Regardless, 43 percent plan to fill the vacancies on a case-by-case basis, with 69 percent training new hires on the job. Twelve percent require additional, company-provided classroom training and 6 percent require third-party classroom training.

In addition to questions about skills shortages and the impact of retiring employees, the Manufacturing Outlook Survey questioned respondents about the economic outlook for the year ahead.

In this year’s and last year’s survey, 72 percent of respondents said they expect an increase in their company’s revenue. However only 69 percent of respondents this year said they realized an increase in revenue in 2017.

Furthermore, 65 percent of respondents said they expect salary increases in 2017, up from 61 percent in the 2016 survey — while less than 1 percent expect a salary reduction — and 44 percent said they expect their company to increase staff, compared to 47 percent last year. Forty-three percent of respondents expect their organization will maintain current staffing levels, while 13 percent said they expect staffing cuts in 2018.

ASQ, the leading authority on quality, conducts the Manufacturing Outlook Survey annually to gauge manufacturing professionals’ views on the year ahead.

ASQ offers training, certification, knowledge resources and other customized solutions to help organizations drive efficiencies and enhance their bottom lines, and provides workers the skills they need to succeed and advance in manufacturing and quality.

About ASQ

ASQ, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., USA, is a global community of people dedicated to quality who share the ideas and tools that make our world work better. With individual and organizational members in more than 140 countries, ASQ has the reputation and reach to bring together the diverse quality champions who are transforming the world’s organizations and communities to meet tomorrow’s critical challenges.

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