All of the headlines about the loss of manufacturing jobs paint a pretty bleak picture for people who work in the industry. With the loss of nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. over the past three decades, one might think of leaving the industry entirely.
But there’s another side to the story for people who want to continue their careers in manufacturing: for those who have high-skill talent in manufacturing, opportunities are abundant. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, employment in high-skill manufacturing occupations has risen by an impressive 37 percent since the early 1980's.
If you’re someone who has upgraded, or is willing to upgrade their skills, you can continue to have a successful career in manufacturing. The U.S. actually has a competitive edge when it comes to high-skill jobs here (vs. low-skill manufacturing prevalent in emerging economies such as China and India). Industry experts say finding workers who combine sharp technical skills with the ability to think creatively and strategically is becoming increasingly difficult.
If you want to be a part of this transformation and think you can upgrade yourself to meet the needs of today’s leading manufacturing companies, take a look at some of the most sought-after skills, as identified by the staffing experts at Adecco:
- Foreign language – It’s no secret, manufacturing has gone global and that requires the ability to communicate, build teams and execute assignments in multiple languages. A sure-fire way to differentiate yourself in today’s manufacturing job market is to have technical and/or managerial skills combined with fluency in dominant languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Spanish.
- Technical – The linchpin to success in manufacturing today is having a strong baseline of technical expertise and ability. Whether it’s something you know today, or have an aptitude for learning later on down the road, technical expertise is critical. Today’s manufacturing companies look for candidates who can work with spreadsheets, interpret CAD (Computer-Aided Design) drawings and navigate databases for reporting.
- Creative – When you think of manufacturing, you don’t typically think of creativity. However, creativity plays a large role in high-skill manufacturing positions. From the ability to problem-solve creatively to product and systems/supply chain innovation, creative thinking and management is a skill that’s in high demand. To showcase your creativity in a cover letter, resume or interview, tell the story of a challenge you’ve faced and how you creatively came up with a solution to solve it, executed the solution and a brief synopsis of the end result.
- Information technology – U.S. manufacturers have become high-tech enterprises. Technology has enabled greater productivity and cost efficiencies, an essential element to success in today’s high-skilled manufacturing enterprises. IT staff are coveted, critical parts of successful manufacturing firms today. If you have a combination of manufacturing industry knowledge and IT skills, there should be plenty of job opportunities for you today and into the future.
- Management – Good leaders are hard to find. That’s no difference in manufacturing. The ability to build and motivate teams that are productive and deliver projects on time, on budget and with high quality is a tremendous asset today. If you have strong management skills, or have the aptitude to build them, position yourself as a manager/leader in your cover letter and resume and explain briefly how you have built a team that executed a major project successfully.
If you are currently in a lower-skilled position and want to upgrade your skills for longer-term success, ask companies if they have internal training programs in any of these core areas and express your interest and motivation to pursue such an opportunity. Otherwise, you can also contact your local community college to see if they offer courses or certification programs in any of these areas so you can get a head start. Also, be sure to speak with your local Adecco representative – they have excellent insights on the industry and can help position you for greater career success!