Are women the answer to the shortage of skilled manufacturing workers?

Monday, April 22, 2013

A recent report by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute called “Untapped resource: How manufacturers can attract, retain and advance talented women,” identifies women as a potential source for funneling skilled workers into manufacturing. However, across all manufacturing sectors in the U.S., women are underrepresented in the workforce. While women represent 46.6% of the total U.S. labor force, they only comprise 24.8% of the durable goods manufacturing workforce. The proportion of women in leadership roles in manufacturing companies also lags behind other U.S. industries.

According to the survey, 51% of those surveyed cite the main driver of women’s underrepresentation in manufacturing is the perception of a male-favored culture and 80% believe that manufacturers can improve their efforts to recruit women.

As many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs remain unfilled and 70% of manufacturing companies report experiencing a moderate to severe talent shortage. Addressing this crisis means taking steps to recruit, retain and promote workers including women.

The report highlighted several next steps in attracting women to manufacturing jobs:

  • Start at the Top -- Cultural change needs to begin in the C-suite
  • Address Gender Bias Head on -- Complete targeted awareness training to uncover implicit bias
  • Create a More Flexible Work Environment -- Shift from a presence-driven culture to a results-driven culture
  • Foster Sponsorship -- Support sponsorship as a way to help women advance to leadership positions
  • Promote Personal Development -- Customized learning and development can aid in retention efforts
  • Build a Strong Employer Brand -- Involve female leaders in recruitment.

Click here to view the full report and click here for more statistics on women in the manufacturing workforce.