Labor Challenges Persist
November 23, 2021
As of this past summer, there were 9.5 million people looking for work and 9.2 million job openings — so, technically speaking, there isn’t a labor shortage. However, in addition to those who cannot go back to work because of COVID health concerns or childcare issues due to a continuation in remote learning, there is a mismatch between the skills of unemployed job-seekers and the skills necessary to fill the open jobs.
Thus, although the economy has been recovering post-pandemic, significant challenges remain in labor supply-demand imbalances and a drop in labor force participation. Manufacturers would benefit by beginning to look to tech and automation as not just replacing workers but creating new jobs and programs that are better for workers and higher-paying. U.S. manufacturers need to prioritize retraining programs, access to STEM education, and training on vocational/trade skills if they want to attract labor to their industry.
They also need to create a workplace culture where employees feel they are valued and have a plan for growth and development. According to Rocki Rockingham, Chief Human Resources Officer at GE Appliances, this means a safe and inclusive workplace as well as training opportunities and a focus on new technology as well as competitive pay, and a robust benefits package that fits them at every stage of life. Employees also want to know what a company stands for in order to determine if the company’s goals align with theirs. Consequently, community engagement opportunities are also valued.