Manufacturing Workforce Lacks Communication Skills

Hiring managers and human resource professionals were recently surveyed about recruiting, training and employment trends in manufacturing and distribution by LMA Consulting Group Inc. and APICS-Inland Empire.

The skills gap survey results showed both existing workers and possible new hires lacked the soft skills needed for the workforce.

77% of current employers said their employees lacked basic presentation and communication skills needed for their current position and would hinder future individual growth 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 Lisa Anderson, president of LMA consulting Group. "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."

Anderson notes that the communication skills gap greatly impacts problem-solving abilities. The manufacturing workforce needs to stop looking to their managing supervisors for answers, and rather initiate their own ideas and solutions.

"That makes sense in part to the 'don't rock the boat' mentality many workers had during the recession, Anderson says. "They didn't want to lose their jobs nor create extra work when they were most likely already short-staffed. Now that the market is changing, your superstar workers will move on while your 'do the time, get the dime' employees with stay put without expanding their skills."