The best minds tackling manufacturers’ workforce challenges gathered in Atlanta last week to discuss hiring, retention, training and more. The Manufacturing Institute’s workforce summit convened almost 300 manufacturers, partners from education and training groups, philanthropy leaders and representatives from community-based organizations to share insights and brainstorm solutions.
The economic backdrop: Amid a persistently tight labor market, manufacturers are looking for immediate and long-term solutions to attraction and retention challenges.
- Chad Moutray, director of the MI’s Center for Manufacturing Research, provided the larger economic context for attendees, saying that “it’s not hard to be bullish about manufacturing. There continues to be signs of resilience in the sector despite a multitude of challenges.”
- “However, it exacerbates workforce issues, which remain the top concern of manufacturers, especially in a solid labor market,” he added.
Energizing connections: The MI was focused on helping participants learn from each other and form lasting and productive bonds.
- Organizations including the Georgia Association of Manufacturers, Siemens Foundation and River Parishes Community College sent leaders to facilitate conversations and share insights, while the generous support of WestRock, the Arconic Foundation and many others made the event possible.
- In breakout sessions, MI experts analyzed the key challenges facing manufacturers and shared proven workforce solutions like high school internships, female mentorship programs and regional sector partnerships.
Fresh insights: The two-day event was brimming with new ideas and fresh perspectives—too many to list in one article. Here is a brief sampling of the topics covered:
- People: The speakers highlighted manufacturers’ work to create positive company culture, prioritize flexibility and address issues like the shortage of child care. Maj. Gen. Kris Belanger also shared the importance of tapping into military talent pools like the U.S. Army Reserve. Programs like the MI’s Heroes MAKE America are making these important connections.
- Skills: To meet their needs for skilled workers, manufacturers are working with the MI, economic development boards and educational institutions to train the current and next generations of manufacturing employees. Workshop sessions showcased solutions from the MI’s FAME USA program, second chance hiring initiative and student engagement.
- Processes: Conversations in the popular “Brewing Solutions” rooms focused on ways manufacturers and workforce partners could tap into hidden populations, create attractive working environments and address policy barriers that restrict the adoption of innovative solutions.
Fearing you missed out? Don’t worry! There are plenty of ways you can plug into the cutting-edge work of the MI, the NAM’s workforce development and education affiliate.
- Get updates directly from the MI on the latest workforce insights and receive information about registering for the 2024 Workforce Summit.
- Join us as a sponsor for the 2024 Women MAKE Awards in Washington, D.C., on April 18 to support female manufacturing leaders and network with manufacturers and other workforce partners.
- Want more labor data and insights? Sign up for the MI’s comprehensive Workforce in Focus newsletter to stay up to date on the latest workforce trends.
The last word: “The MI’s unique positioning as both an insightful expert of emerging trends within the industry and an effective implementer of proven workforce solutions drives innovative problem-solving,” said MI President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “As we face structural workforce shortages, convenings like the MI’s Workforce Summit will continue to be crucial to build the types of partnerships and share important insights needed to ensure the readiness of the manufacturing workforce.”