The global pandemic triggered significant shifts in labor markets, with over 47.1 million US workers (in what we call The Great Resignation) quitting their jobs in 2021. Notably, many of these workers moved to different industries or roles. 

One of the most impacted sectors was manufacturing, where 50% of job openings in durable goods production remain unfilled. 

In fact, according to the 2023 Career Advancement in Manufacturing Report, 82% of manufacturing companies are experiencing labor shortages. 

So what’s the solution? In a nutshell, experts suggest investing in reskilling and upskilling workers to help overcome labor shortages. 

At Toolcraft Machining, we’ve proactively addressed this issue by continually investing in internal and external training, including cross-training our office staff and machinists, and recruiting for new positions, particularly for second shift roles. Additionally, they have invested in efficiency-enhancing equipment, such as a 5-axis mill/turn pallet changer, as well as expanding their engineering team and adopting IOT software to optimize operations, reduce downtime, and ensure high-quality outcomes for clients.

The Reason For Labor Shortages In The Industrial Manufacturing Sector

The manufacturing industry is facing labor shortages due to several factors. On top of the manufacturing sector’s rate of growth, a few major reasons for the shortfall include:  

  1. Aging Workforce: Many skilled workers are reaching retirement age, and fewer younger workers are entering the field to replace them. The manufacturing sector has been struggling with a negative perception as an old-fashioned industry, which makes it less attractive to younger generations.
  2. Skills Gap: Modern manufacturing requires combining traditional skills and knowledge of advanced technologies. Industrial manufacturing often requires specialized training in areas like CNC programming, automation, and robotics. Unfortunately, there’s a significant skills gap, without enough trained workers to fill these roles.
  3. Impact of Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the labor shortage. Pandemic-induced shifts in the economy, remote work possibilities, and health concerns have led many to leave the industry or reconsider their job choices.
  4. Education and Training: There has been a cultural shift towards promoting four-year college degrees over vocational training and apprenticeships. This shift has reduced the number of new entrants into manufacturing roles.
  5. Changing Expectations: Today’s workers often prioritize job satisfaction, work-life balance, and opportunities for growth and development. Manufacturers may struggle to attract and retain talent if manufacturers don’t address these expectations.

To combat these challenges, it’s crucial for the industry to invest in training and apprenticeship programs, modernize its image, and promote the benefits and opportunities in manufacturing roles. Also, creating an attractive work environment that meets the changing expectations of the workforce is critical.

How Toolcraft Addresses Shortages In Industrial Manufacturing

Toolcraft is actively pursuing several strategies to maintain and increase efficiencies amidst labor shortages. As we’ve mentioned, investing in multiple training avenues (internal, external, and cross-training) and recruiting new positions has been our strategy, but Toolcraft also:  

  • Uses its size as an advantage. Being relatively small allows Toolcraft to maintain agility and flexibility in our operations. This agility means that we can quickly adapt to changing market conditions and customer demands. It also facilitates prompt and efficient communication within the company, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives.
  • Places emphasis on innovation. We take time, particularly during the prototyping phase of production, because we recognize that investing more time upfront during this phase can significantly improve efficiency in the longer term by avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort during production. We continually search for and apply new techniques and processes to streamline production, reduce errors, and improve quality.
  • Acknowledges the critical role that machinists play in shop floor technology. We are committed to investing in new technologies that can further enhance efficiencies, ensuring that Toolcraft stays at the forefront of industry developments and empowers our CNC machining experts by equipping them with the latest tools and technologies to do their jobs more effectively.

As you can see, Toolcraft is addressing labor shortages and efficiency challenges by capitalizing on its agility, embracing innovation, and continually investing in the latest production technologies.

How Toolcraft Attracts Top Precision Machining Talent As A Woman-Owned Business

Toolcraft is a woman-owned industrial manufacturing business, and it’s given us a distinctive edge in attracting top talent to our team. We attract top talent to our team because we live by three desirable values that employees seek out in an employer:

  • Collaboration. Toolcraft fosters a cooperative spirit throughout all levels of our business. From the shop floor to the leadership team, there’s a strong sense of collaboration and mutual respect. This culture of teamwork is not common in the traditionally male-dominated manufacturing sector, but talented people who seek an environment that values cooperation and mutual respect.
  • Innovation. Our commitment to innovation and continuous learning also appeals to prospective employees. Toolcraft’s willingness to invest in new tools and embrace novel ideas sends a clear message that Toolcraft values growth, improvement, and technological advancement. Employees always learn, improve, and stay on the cutting edge of industry trends and technologies. Such a dynamic work environment is particularly attractive to talented individuals seeking opportunities for growth and development.
  • Inclusive Leadership. Our decision-making process is another key factor in hiring and retaining only the best. By including all stakeholders (leadership, engineering, management, and machinists) in planning meetings, Toolcraft ensures that all voices and perspectives are heard. This approach results in better decision-making and problem-solving. It also fosters a sense of ownership and engagement among employees. Talented professionals are attracted to such an empowering environment where their voices matter and their contributions are valued.

As a woman-owned business, Toolcraft has cultivated a uniquely inclusive, collaborative, and innovative work culture, and these characteristics serve to help us stand out as a powerful magnet for top talent in the manufacturing industry. In terms of ensuring that our valued clients don’t feel the effects of the labor shortage, all of our efforts help Toolcraft to maintain productivity and meet client expectations. By continually upskilling our staff, embracing new technologies, and using our advantages as a woman-owned business in a male-dominated sector, we can maintain high standards, manage efficient production schedules, and remain responsive to our client’s needs, even in the face of labor challenges.

In the ever-changing industrial manufacturing landscape, having a partner that can adapt, innovate, and consistently deliver is crucial. If you’re looking for a CNC machine shop that views challenges as opportunities for growth, invests in its people, embraces new technologies, and focuses on delivering top-quality results every time, you’ve found it in Toolcraft. 

Don’t let your project’s success hinge on the ordinary; let our solution-based approach lead the way. Reach out to us today, and let’s explore how our expertise can drive your project’s success to new heights.