Competing for talent

Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute explore public perception

Manufacturers are at a crossroads. In the wake of the pandemic, how can organizations take this opportunity to educate people unfamiliar with the benefits of a manufacturing career while continuing to retain their current workforce?

Recasting perceptions of manufacturing

There is good news to report in the Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute 2022 Manufacturing Perception Study. Compared with our 2017 study, significantly more respondents believe that manufacturing jobs are innovative, and more respondents are likely to encourage their child to pursue a career in the industry.

Further, the pandemic has led to a new awareness of the critical nature of manufacturing in the United States and beyond. Many manufacturing teams were designated essential workers, partly due to the role they played in producing ventilators and PPE and keeping supply chains open.

However, amid the economywide workforce shortage, manufacturing companies continue to struggle to fill open positions. Our study reveals a continued perception gap: Even as domestic manufacturing is viewed as increasingly important to the economy, public perceptions of manufacturing are not in line with the current reality. For instance, many Americans are not aware of the increasingly high-tech nature of manufacturing, which is improving employee productivity and providing cutting-edge, transferable skills.

In short, manufacturers find themselves waging a war for talent both globally and, more importantly, at the hyper-local level. This report highlights the perception gaps and suggests ways to possibly change these to align with the current realities of modern facilities, advanced technologies, and career mobility.

Competing for talent

The age-old perception challenge

While manufacturing’s image has seen an improvement in recent years, there is still work to be done. Our analysis points to three areas that appear to be contributing to the misperceptions:

Limited public awareness of the manufacturing career opportunities. The study found that perceptions of respondents did not reflect the current level of technological advancement, benefits, and salary levels offered by manufacturers.

Rising competition for talent. Many manufacturing companies are increasingly competing with other sectors for skilled labor. There is a perception among those surveyed that jobs in high-growth sectors, such as retail or services, offer better salaries and benefits, which indicates heightened competition in global markets as well as local communities.

Changing workforce expectations. Expectations of work and the workplace have evolved over the past five years, with respondents reporting an increased focus on well-being; purpose; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); flexible schedules; and proximity of the workplace to one’s home.

Download our full study to learn how organizations can combat these misconceptions.

Take a look back at previous studies

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