Veterans in the Battle for Skilled Labor

Justin Parker
VP, Operations and Marketing

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Veterans and active duty service members have greatly impacted our country with their service. They can further impact our country by filling the growing number of available positions within the US manufacturing industry. Manufacturing is the American industry with the highest multiplier effect on the economy. Every dollar in final sales of manufactured products supports $1.33 in output from other sectors.

2.4 Million Positions Will Go Unfilled Between 2018 and 2028

In November of 2018 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute released their “2018 Skills Gap In Manufacturing Study.” The study considered the Fourth Industrial Revolution (industry4.0) and its transformative effect on the future of work within the industry. Industry4.0 uses automation, advanced robotics, analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to make factories and plants more efficient. The zeitgeist expresses fears about industry4.0 eliminating jobs. However the study demonstrates that Industry4.0 is creating more jobs than it is replacing.

In fact, so many jobs are being created that a predicted 2.4 million positions will go unfilled between 2018 and 2028. This will negatively affect the United States manufacturing industry. Which could result in a potential economic impact of 2.5 trillion dollars. Furthermore, the study suggests that a growing skills gap will make it more difficult to find talent with a necessary combination of digital skills and “uniquely human” soft skills.

Veterans Can Help to Fill the Skills Gap

There is a group of people in America inherently trained for the hard skills and especially for the soft skills demanded by industry4.0’s future of work: military veterans. Certainly many military occupations already translate easily to civilian manufacturing positions. For example: In military-ese “a machinist mate, an avionics technician, or a fire control tech can become an HVAC technician [as a civilian career]” (IndustryWeek). Similarly American service members are experts in teamwork, attention to detail, performing under stress, and problem solving.

Every year around 200,000 people return home from serving in the military. These veterans make excellent additions to manufacturing teams. For this reason Siemens developed a “conscientious hiring and onboarding plan for veterans." In response veterans are successfully building longstanding careers at Siemens.

Over the course of 10 years, the 200,000 veterans returning home yearly could equal 2 million people finding careers in manufacturing. Compare that to the predicted 2.4 million jobs that are predicted to go unfilled over the next decade. Consequently veterans become an obvious asset in the manufacturing industry’s battle for skilled labor.

The industry continues to build pathways to welcome returning service members into US manufacturing:
  • The Manufacturing Institute recently launched their Heroes MAKE America program which focuses on filling production jobs
  • Siemens is committed to hiring veterans through their “Joining Forces” program
  • And the our blog magazine features a “how to” on transitioning military service into high-paying manufacturing careers

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Published on
November 14, 2018