Even with unemployment at historic lows, manufacturers across the United States continue to struggle to fill roles. According to a March 2022 survey from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, nearly 45 percent of U.S. manufacturing executives report having turned down opportunities because they lacked workers.

Companies are trying a wide variety of tactics to overcome their needs. Some are improving their worker training strategies with programs such as the NPCA Onboarding Program. Others are offering higher wages, better health care coverage and other benefits to draw applicants.

Industry Week magazine recently reported on some of the more innovative and interesting approaches.

  • Boot camp. Electric vehicle maker Lucid Motors had neither the time nor resources to recruit and train more than 2,000 workers on the job for its new Arizona plant. Instead, the company partnered with a local community college and government offices to build and equip a training facility where new workers got practical experience before showing up for Day 1.
  • Apprentice program. With plans to expand to more than 11,000 employees at a South Carolina plant, BMW worked with high schools and four area community colleges to develop job-related skills and education.
  • GED assistance. Taco Comfort Solutions, a family-owned HVAC manufacturer in Rhode Island, pays for workers to receive job-related skills training, including toward earning a GED.
  • Language lessons. Taziki’s Mediterranean Café has about 90 locations nationwide, many of which are staffed with Spanish-first speakers, especially in the kitchen. Taziki pays for its employees to improve their English, which has led to many getting promoted to better-paying positions.
  • Widening the talent pool. Women and veterans remain an underserved resource in the job market, especially in manufacturing. Hiring based on potential rather than experience vastly broadens a candidate base.