Navigating the New Normal In The Trade World with Mike Matlock

                                                                                   Listen to this episode on Spotify.

Welcome to The Skillwork Forum, where we take a deep dive into the industry issues, emerging trends, and challenges surrounding skilled trades. 

Fresh from our participation at the Pack Expo 2023 in Las Vegas, we're here to share some insights from the show. The Pack Expo isn’t just another manufacturing event. This year, the expo witnessed a record-breaking number of over 32,000 attendees, and over 2,500 exhibitors. 

While many may think of the Pack Expo as solely focused on packaging – it’s so much more. Manufacturers representing diverse industries – food, beverage, automotive, etc. – from all over the world were represented in this global event.

In this podcast episode, we discuss three manufacturing industry trends that were highlighted at Pack Expo 2023 with our VP of Sales, Mike Matlock.

Pack Expo 2023 Las Vegas: Trends In Manufacturing 2023

Upskilling the Workforce

Recruitment in the manufacturing industry and workforce upskilling were recurring themes at the Pack Expo.

On the topic of recruiting, contrary to what many might expect, conversations were not just about mechanics. The industry is evolving, and the demand now encompasses high-end PLC specialists, CNC machinists, and other advanced roles. 2023 recruiting trends were a hot topic.

One study reports that 70% of facilities are falling behind because they can’t find the right talent (or talent in general), and that was certainly a primary pain point for manufacturers at this show.

Mike recalled a VP of production from a large manufacturing facility in Phoenix came up to him and said, “We can't find the talent we need. We shifted to a local staffing agency to find local temp, and that worked for a while…but in the end, the bodies might be there, but the skills aren't.”

Additionally, workforce upskilling is a 2023 staffing trend in the trades that’s becoming an undeniable necessity. To keep up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, you need tradesmen with the skills to do jobs of the future.

Rise of Smart Factories

We're seeing a generational shift from machine-based assembly line production to smart factories. If you’re not adopting manufacturing technology, your competitors will inevitably surpass you because they are adapting to this seismic shift in the industry.

Smart factories represent a leap forward from siloed machines to fully connected and flexible systems. These factories use technology to elevate the traditional manufacturing and production process, making operations more efficient, productive, and adaptable. 

Real-time data, digital twin technology, and cyber-physical systems make complex decision-making faster and more accurate.

While smart factories are the future of manufacturing, they also come with challenges. The initial investment required for the technological infrastructure can be high. It also requires skilled workers who understand these advanced systems. Additionally, with increased connectivity comes heightened cyber-security risks. 

At this point, however, it seems that the benefits certainly outweigh the challenges of adopting smart technologies in manufacturing.

U.S. Manufacturing Boom

In a recent podcast episode of The Skillwork Forum, we discussed changes in the manufacturing industry. While there were quite a few emerging trends in manufacturing, the global outlook was particularly positive.

In addition to the adoption of manufacturing technology across the sector, the boom in U.S. manufacturing is heavily driven by federal funding and incentives. Policies like the CHIPS Act aim to revitalize domestic manufacturing for important products like semiconductors and reduce reliance on importers, namely China.

One nonprofit organization leading this change is The Reshoring Initiative®. They help manufacturers accurately evaluate the total cost of offshoring and promote the idea that local production reduces the total cost of ownership. 

It’s one thing to hear economists say there’s a manufacturing boom, but it’s another to hear it from the mouths of manufacturers themselves. At Pack Expo 2023 in Las Vegas, we were encouraged to hear about all of the plans manufacturers have for the future of their factories. 

The Future of Recruitment In the Manufacturing Industry

Recruiting for manufacturing jobs is no small task for HR teams. They can’t just “work harder” to start recruiting manufacturing employees that they couldn’t find before. In reality, there aren’t as many tradesmen in the job market due to the skilled trades shortage. Employers need to take a different approach to recruitment in the manufacturing industry.

Skillwork is a skilled labor travel staffing and manufacturing recruiting firm. Our team of skilled workers enables employers to not only find a body to fill a role but also find someone who has the right talent and is the right fit for their culture. 

Using a travel staffing model, we make hiring in manufacturing more about skill alignment than location. We recruit and hire tradesmen from across the country to augment your workforce wherever you need them, whenever you need them. By partnering with Skillwork, you can find skilled workers to supplement your team during busy seasons, keeping your workforce – and budget – flexible.

Reach out to Skillwork to learn more about how we can offload the tall task of recruiting manufacturing employees.

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