Recently, a manufacturing intern asked our team, “Do you think our industry’s workforce problems are here to stay?”
Our answer? No.
Look, we know manufacturing is experiencing a massive labor shortage and that precision machine shops face unprecedented challenges in training, hiring, and retaining skilled workers.
We also know the labor shortage is the #1 excuse we hear from vendors regarding project delays.
While we could all complain until we’re blue in the face, one thing is for sure: complaining won’t help precision machining customers get their orders on time. We must acknowledge the severity of this issue and work to fix it.
How We’re Addressing the Labor Shortage Head-on
At Reata Engineering, we’re taking tangible steps to mitigate workforce issues and meet our customers’ needs. Here’s what we’re doing:
1. Engaging with local high schools
We’re heavily involved with the high schools in and around Englewood, Colorado, where our precision machine shop is located.
We recruit from and teach at local high schools—both traditional high schools and vocational schools. Additionally, we work with vocational programs to subsidize credentials for National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certification.
2. Running an internship program
We started an internship program in the summer of 2022, welcoming 12 young participants into our precision machine shop. We’ll be showing them what—exactly—machining is and introducing them to the business.
After spending the summer with our interns and gauging their interest and potential, we intend to recruit several of them for permanent positions in our apprenticeship program. We’re proud to grow our team’s skills from the ground up.
While some shop owners think training takes too long or is too expensive—especially if the trainee ends up taking a job at another shop—we see it as an opportunity to invest in the workforce at large.
While that person is with us, we have another set of hands on our floor, helping us deliver parts to our customers on time. And if they move on to another shop? That individual is still one more skilled worker in our industry. In our eyes, it’s a win-win situation.
3. Seeking talent in underrepresented communities
Did you know that while women make up roughly half of the total national workforce, only one-third of workers in the manufacturing industry are women? And even when women are hired, they’re far more likely to hold jobs in the front office than on the shop floor.
At Reata Engineering, we’re proactively building a diverse workforce and seeking potential hires in traditionally underrepresented communities. Our leadership team continuously reaches out to organizations that attract a more comprehensive range of candidates to diversify our talent pool.
4. Investing in automated equipment
Industry 4.0 is the future of contract manufacturing. We’re investing in advanced automated equipment to become more efficient, which helps mitigate labor issues by allowing us to accomplish more with fewer people.
But we’ve also found that adopting cutting-edge technologies helps us attract young workers who are tech-savvy by nature. These individuals can quickly pick up new tools and techniques—even teaching our seasoned team members some things!
5. Remaining committed to excellent customer service
No matter how the industry evolves or what challenges we encounter, we remain committed to excellent customer service. We consider customers our partners, and we’ll continue to think creatively and communicate proactively to meet their expectations and requirements.
We’re always working on solutions—trying to see opportunities from every angle. We’re dedicated to being a part of the solution to current workforce issues, ensuring that our customers get their parts on time and that our industry can thrive well into the future.
Are you in need of a new contract manufacturing partner? We’d love to show you what we can do. Request a quote to get started on your next project.