A recent survey by LMA Consulting group found that hiring managers in the distribution and manufacturing sectors are facing a skills gap as the supply chain becomes more complex. The results of the survey found that 77 percent of manufacturers and distributors cannot find talent to replace workers who have left.
"... We keep hearing that manufacturers cannot find good people," Lisa Anderson, president of LMA, said in a press release. "Even though unemployment remains higher than prerecession levels, manufacturers and distributors cannot find the talent required to support their business. To add fuel to the fire, as supply chains have become more complex in recent years, a higher level of skills and talent is required for success, leaving a skills gap."
Current Skilled Employees are Leaving the Industry in Higher Numbers
The study also found that there was no single factor widening the skills gap, but a convergence of three key trends that are changing employment in the industry:
- Due to the improved economy, more employees are leaving to pursue better opportunities.
- Many skilled older workers are now feeling financially secure enough to retire.
- New technology and systems within the supply chain have advanced beyond the skill level of the traditional worker.
Technology Can Also be Used to Close the Skills Gap
Measuring employee productivity using technology such as mobile data collection can help improve performance. According to Inbound Logistics magazine, measuring productivity can directly lead to improved performance, as it allows decision-makers to identify problem areas in the warehouse.
In an interview with the magazine, Mark Cleveland, senior operations manager of supply chain execution at Allstate Insurance, said that after these bottlenecks and failures have been identified employees should be involved in identifying alternative solutions.
Furthermore, voice picking technology has also been shown to reduce employee errors by nearly 100 percent with the use of check digits. The technology also makes workers more efficient by freeing up their hands and eyes.
While new technology cannot prevent older workers from retiring or highly skilled workers from moving on, it can assist in improving performance among the available talent pool. As data collection within the warehouse improves, so can future training programs. By determining what skills employees lack early on, performance can be improved more quickly.