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Latest NAM Survey Confirms Skills Gap Remains Greatest Challenge

NAM Q3 2019 Manufacturers' Outlook Survey Results - Business Confidence Infographic

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On September 23, 2019, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released its most recent NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey (the “NAM Survey”) for the third quarter of 2019. Unfortunately, the survey results revealed a continuing decline in business confidence.

In the first quarter of 2019, 89.5% of manufacturers surveyed said they were either somewhat or very positive about their company’s outlook. That figure decreased to 79.8% in the second quarter and to 67.9% in this latest survey—the lowest result in three years.

What is behind this decline in business confidence? The NAM Survey cites a variety of reasons, including “slowed growth amid trade uncertainties” and “a softening global economy.” In addition to these concerns, a third major contributing factor was cited: “a worsening domestic workforce shortage.”

NAM Survey - Skills Gap InfographicSkills Gap Still Top Concern

For those who follow manufacturing trends, it should come as no surprise that “the inability to attract and retain workers remained respondents’ top concern for the eighth consecutive survey.” That’s two straight years during which finding a qualified workforce has been the greatest challenge facing manufacturers of all sizes.

In this latest NAM Survey, finding and keeping skilled workers was identified as their biggest challenge by nearly 70% of manufacturers. Additional data collected from the NAM Survey reveals the severity of the workforce crisis and its effect on manufacturers:

  • 78.7% of manufacturers reported having unfilled positions within their companies for which they’re struggling to find qualified applicants.
  • 33.9% of manufacturers reported being unable to take on new business and having lost revenue opportunities because of their inability to attract and retain qualified workers.

Bridging the Skills Gap

The NAM Survey also gives some insight into how manufacturers are currently addressing the skills gap that’s impacting how they do business. Many of these efforts are reactionary, stop-gap measures arising out of sheer necessity, such as using temporary staffing services, forcing current workers to work longer hours, and encouraging older workers to put off retirement.

Fortunately, there are also more and more manufacturers taking proactive steps to ensure a better future for their businesses. For example, the NAM Survey reveals the following encouraging efforts:

  • 69.9% of manufacturers indicated they’re “[c]reating or expanding internal training programs” to address the skills gap.
  • 55% of manufacturers reported “[c]ollaborating with educational institutions on skills certification programs” in an effort to bridge the skills gap.

NAM Survey - Bridging the Skills Gap Infographic

Training current workers and working with educators to teach their students the skills they will need to succeed are both positive steps toward easing the workforce crisis. The NAM Survey also reveals that many manufacturers are looking to advanced technologies to solve workforce issues by making manufacturing processes more efficient:

  • 64.4% of manufacturers responded that their companies are digitally enabling their manufacturing processes.
  • 54.4% of manufacturers indicated they’re planning to accelerate their manufacturing digital transformation in the coming year.

How Amatrol Can Help

Amatrol has been a trusted technical training partner of both industry and education for more than 30 years.

What truly sets Amatrol apart is its dedication to providing comprehensive training solutions that can integrate in-depth multimedia eLearning curriculum with robust trainers that teach hands-on skills with real-world industrial components.

Amatrol offers learning systems for a wide variety of in-demand skill sets useful throughout industry, including popular areas like electrical, electronics, fluid power, mechanical, mechatronics, and automation.

These systems can also be used in conjunction with specialized programs supporting industry-recognized certifications from the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) and the Smart Automation Certification Alliance (SACA). Examples of these programs include the following:

Amatrol also offers comprehensive learning solutions for education. For example, programs range from introducing high school students to emerging technologies to teaching hands-on skills in the latest, highly-sophisticated smart factory systems:

Visit Amatrol online to learn more about how Amatrol can help you bridge the skills gap and transform the global workforce one life at a time.

About Duane Bolin

Duane Bolin is a former curriculum developer and education specialist. He is currently a Marketing Content Developer for Amatrol, Inc. Learn more about Amatrol and its technical training solutions, including eLearning, here and connect with Duane on Amatrol’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages.

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