Deloitte, in partnership with The Manufacturing Institute, recently released their 2018 Skills Gap in Manufacturing Study. The report finds a widening gap between the number of qualified skilled workers and the number of jobs that need to be filled. It is estimated that 2.4 million manufacturing positions will go unfilled over the next 10 years leading to a $2.5 trillion economic disruption to the U.S. economy.
In what the study refers to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution—an industry fueled by artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, automation, analytics and the Internet of Things—public perception may be that the human worker is quickly becoming obsolete. The study finds the opposite to be true and suggests that advancements in technology have been cultivating opportunity. Manufacturing jobs, the study reports, have been growing at double-digit rates since mid-2017. It’s up to institutions and business then to redefine employee roles to keep pace with shifting work dynamics and to train accordingly.
advanced technology and digital skills must blend with uniquely human skills to yield the highest level of productivity.
Of the recommended solutions to narrowing the skills gap, leveraging the digital toolbox is the core focus. This breaks down to digital adoption. The authors of the report state, “advanced technology and digital skills must blend with uniquely human skills to yield the highest level of productivity.”
That recommendation has important implications on the issues facing home building, an industry notoriously slow to change. As building science continues to influence the way homes are built and as advancements in the manufacturing sector continue to impact the materials available for construction, the skills needed in the field and in the office need to evolve. Training employees to develop soft skills—critical thinking, creativity and people management—in conjunction with giving them the tools to harness the latest design and construction technology may not immediately close the skills gap. But, like in the manufacturing industry, it might prove to be the solution for builders looking to keep pace with the demands of the market.