Can Michigan build a robust manufacturing workforce?

Can Michigan build a robust manufacturing workforce?

Michigan’s manufacturing workforce, which stood at 622,800 at the end of 2019, plummeted to 402,500 in April of 2020, just a month after pandemic-related lockdowns began, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It has since rebounded to 610,400.

That’s close to, but not yet, full strength. Though unemployment can be driven by demand shortages on the manufacturers’ side, many are unemployed because they don’t have the necessary skills. Manufacturing needs not only a workforce but a talent pipeline for that workforce.

Nationwide, the sector will have 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030, according to the 2021 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute Manufacturing Talent report. To meet this future need and to create a robust workforce, manufacturers can take three approaches: reskilling and upskilling; supporting STEM education; and focusing on attracting, nurturing and retaining talent.

With reskilling and upskilling, the key is powering human impact with technology. As stated in the 2023 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report, more than 90% of surveyed business leaders believe that using such technology to improve work outcomes and team performance important to their organization’s success. While headlines have been written about the idea of technology replacing workers, we’re now seeing new emerging technologies augment work done by humans, enhancing human and team performance.

Deloitte’s The Smart Factory @ Wichita, which opened in June at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, is a good example of not only building the ways of working between humans and machines but also building future manufacturing talent. The first-of-its-kind facility hosts more than 20 leading technology companies, innovators, futurists and solution providers who solve manufacturing’s biggest challenges, including labor.

In addition to the experiential elements for businesses, the Smart Factory is also helping support STEM education via its applied learning program with Wichita State University, where students work in the factory and also manufactures components of a STEM education kit called The Smart Rover, which is fully assembled at the factory and shipped to students in underserved communities. The donations have impacted more than 1,000 students in Wichita, Metro Detroit, and Philadelphia, with plans to reach 800,000 students over the next four years.

Supporting STEM education is one avenue to help fill the employment pipeline for manufacturing —nurturing and retaining talent is also critical. Deloitte’s 2023 Manufacturing Industry Outlook points to raising wages, traditionally high in manufacturing, to compete with warehouse and retail jobs; doubling down on DEI initiatives to attract women, who comprise less than a third of manufacturing’s workforce, as well as Black, Asian, and Latinx employees, who comprise less than a third of the workforce; and offering flexible work arrangements to appeal to a broader base of potential employees.

This won’t happen overnight. Yet, while 2030 seems ages away, it’s just around the corner. Establishing the initiatives outlined above, starting today, will help ensure that manufacturing has the workforce it needs for years to come.

This post contains general information only, and Deloitte is not, using this post, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This post is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.

Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by anyone who relies on this post.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of our legal structure. Certain services may not be available to attest to clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Copyright © 2022 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.

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