Communication, writing skills lacking in manufacturing workforce, says survey

January 7, 2014

LMA Consulting Group, Claremont, Calif., has released the "Manufacturing and Distribution Skills Gap Report," based on a skills gap survey conducted in conjunction with the APICS - Inland Empire chapter that focused on how manufacturers and distributors are adjusting to the new "business normal" in terms of their workforces.

The survey, which asked hiring managers and human resources professionals about recruiting, training, and general employment trends in manufacturing and distribution, revealed that many of the soft skills needed to be a successful manufacturing employee were lacking in both existing workers and potential new hires. For current employers, 77.7 percent of respondents stated that their own employees lack basic presentation and communications skills needed to be successful in their current positions and that this lack of skill would impact future professional movement within the organization.

"We typically looked at technical skills and where we can meet the shortfall in demand planning, supply chain management, production planning — more operational in nature," said LMA President Lisa Anderson. "But what the survey uncovered is a bigger issue that impacts the way we get things done. The inability to write a memo or communicate process changes in a meeting is problematic for any organization seeking to improve its operations.

"One management-level survey participant stated that he needed to be present in meetings to lead and take notes or progress would be stalled. That burdens managers to a lower administration level rather than allowing them to be more forward-thinking and managing future change."

Closely following a gap in communication skills is the inability to problem-solve or come up with ideas or alternatives to a situation or issue. In general, the manufacturing workforce is asking for direction from supervisors or managers rather than initiating new ideas and solutions.