Study: 33% of manufacturers in Mass. face difficulty hiring

One in three Massachusetts manufacturers report difficulty hiring production workers, according to a survey of 1,350 manufacturing firms conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative. More

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Study: 33% of manufacturers in Mass. face difficulty hiring

Posted 6/25/14

DARTMOUTH – One in three Massachusetts manufacturers report difficulty hiring production workers, according to a survey of 1,350 manufacturing firms conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative.

While the fabricated metals and machinery sector faces a particularly acute hiring challenge, with 42 percent of firms saying they had difficulty finding workers, all six major sectors of the Massachusetts advanced manufacturing industry suggested they have struggled hiring the workers they need to a lesser or greater degree.

Sixty percent of the firms surveyed, however, said they expect to employ more production workers in two years than they do today.

“These findings provide us with strong evidence that Massachusetts workforce development and educational institutions face a significant but targeted challenge,” said UMass Dartmouth professor Michael Goodman, who leads the collaborative’s Advanced Manufacturing Regional Partnership Academy. “Our findings are consistent with recent MIT research that also finds that, while the scale of this challenge is more modest than some have claimed, we can solve this problem if we can strengthen the connections between those employers with very real workforce needs and our vocational high schools, community colleges and workforce development agencies.”

Other key findings by the UMass Dartmouth survey include:

  • Ninety percent of firms agreed that, if a potential production worker has the right attitude and basic skills, they are willing and able to provide them with the additional training required.

  • Seventy-nine percent indicated they have the resources required to train new production workers, and 83 percent reported having the resources to train existing production staff.

  • Fifty-seven percent of firms reported that they require their new production workers to have relevant industry experience.

  • Seventy-three percent of firms said they have never worked with high schools to recruit new workers, while 69 percent have never worked with community colleges, 76 percent have never worked with four-year universities, and 83 percent have never worked with public workforce investment boards.

“We must continue to support our advanced manufacturing partnerships in their ongoing efforts to effectively engage employers and strategically coordinate regional educational and workforce development efforts to meet their needs,” said Massachusetts Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki.

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