As the manufacturing sector enters a new age, meeting consumer demand while maintaining a competitive edge in the marketplace is proving harder than ever. The pandemic was the tipping point for an industry transformation that has been on the horizon for years, and now, research has found that manufacturing executives’ largest challenge today is preservation – of both customer share and talent share.
In response, workforces are being overhauled and manufacturing technology is advancing, changing the way that workers operate and raising the expectations of consumers. To compete in today’s market, you have to respond in kind – let’s dive into manufacturing trends and how to navigate the industry’s new reality.
As far as hiring, manufacturing was initially one of the few sectors least impacted by the coronavirus. While some operations were stalled during the initial days and months of the outbreak, corporations like Tesla, GE, and Arconic are still competing for industry talent and they’re far from alone in their hunt for great workers – 89% of manufacturers are leaving jobs unfilled because they can’t find qualified applicants.
Source: “Infographic: The Pandemic’s Impact on the Manufacturing Industry“
In 2021, the manufacturing sector gained jobs, but by the end of the year, still hadn’t closed the gap (there was still a deficit of over 200,000 jobs). As a result, 72% of manufacturing execs plan to increase spending on hiring technicians.
The combination of COVID-19 and the manufacturing talent shortage is inspiring employers to get creative with their talent acquisition and hiring initiatives:
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This crisis has also impacted the behaviors of consumer spending in every industry, driving many from traditional service offerings to digital alternatives. For example, consumers continue to invest in connected services and subscription businesses despite coronavirus – in fact, they’re spending more today than pre-pandemic.
The impact of this behavioral shift has been compounded by the fact that the pandemic illuminated gaps in supply chains for manufacturers of all sizes. With workers quarantined at home, execs were forced to reconsider their business strategies on the spot. The solution that most companies are turning to is investing in manufacturing technology and AI.
For years, automation has enabled major industry players to transition their service offerings to better fit the times. Look at Whirlpool. Despite being a traditional kitchen appliance manufacturer, their latest smart products integrate with applications, like their smart oven that pairs with recipe app Yummly and allows consumers to streamline meal-prep, temperature settings, and more.
And if that’s not convincing enough, consider DuPont. Since 1802, they’ve consistently remained on the cutting edge of innovation. Over the years, they’ve integrated new tech into their operations, staying on top of and ahead of manufacturing trends in the marketplace.
The company that once used bark from willow trees to manufacture dyes now makes a host of technologically-advanced products like Kevlar and Tyvek. Their agile and forward-thinking approach has led them to be a leading manufacturer of products that are staples in both the workplace and home.
To succeed today, you have to more effectively meet new (and changing) consumer demand by using manufacturing technology. Here’s how:
The manufacturing industry has always run at a fast pace, one currently accelerated by COVID-19. In today’s economy, your current objective is clear — preserve, and ideally grow, your share of the talent pool and customer base.
Don’t just work to navigate the current landscape — find ways to lead through it so that your company can be stronger than ever before. Start by meeting consumers and candidates where they’re at right now, by reevaluating your business plan, cutting unnecessary costs, and investing in an innovative future.
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Table of contents
Finding Hidden Talent First Closes the Gap
How to Support Future Jobs in Manufacturing
2021 Workforce Projection for Manufacturing