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2018 Skills Gap in Manufacturing Study

For more than two centuries, the manufacturing industry has adopted new technologies and provided new jobs for workers. Today, the industry is experiencing exciting and exponential change, as technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and Internet of Things (IoT) are rapidly changing the workplace. While some predicted that these new technologies would eliminate jobs, we have found the reverse—more jobs are actually being created.

In fact, job openings have been growing at double-digit rates since mid-2017, and are nearing the historical peak recorded in 2001. In this dynamic manufacturing environment, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute launched their fourth skills gap study to reevaluate their prior projections and move the conversation forward on today’s hiring environment and the future of manufacturing work. The results appear to highlight a widening gap between the jobs that need to be filled and the skilled talent pool capable of filling them.

The study reveals that the skills gap may leave an estimated 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028, with a potential economic impact of 2.5 trillion. Further, the study shows that the positions relating to digital talent, skilled production, and operational managers may be three times as difficult to fill in the next three years.

How can the manufacturing industry get ready for the future of work and prepare workers to work with robots and advanced technologies? What are the skills that will become must-haves in the workplace? What are the pathways for training and education to enable these skills? Finding potential solutions to close the manufacturing skills gap begins by exploring what’s possible for future jobs.

Reimagining manufacturing jobs

To help manufacturing leaders visualize the future of work, we’ve developed a series of personas that describe what jobs could look like in 2028. These jobs are described from the standpoint of the workers themselves, exploring how their work has changed, what skills and career pathways they have, the digital tools that assist them in their work, and what a normal day on the job looks like.

Bringing these jobs to life can help business leaders, workers, educators, and policymakers shape their vision and spark conversations around what may need to change.

These future personas represent our research on the manufacturing skills gap and reflect several important themes:

  • Putting humans in the loop
  • Expanding digital and “soft” skills
  • Leveraging the digital toolbox

Download the full Deloitte report here.