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News & Press: MPMA News

Workforce Wednesday: Finding Qualified Workers

Wednesday, May 10, 2017  
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Finding qualified workers was one of the top concerns among manufacturing executives who participated in the annual State of Manufacturing® survey conducted by Enterprise Minnesota.

The 2017 survey results were released May 9, and when asked to identify the biggest challenges manufacturers face that might negatively impact further growth, 34 percent of the respondents said attracting qualified workers was one of their top concerns, which is up from 26 percent reported last year.

Rob Autry, founder of Meeting Street Research, said surveyors drilled down further into the answers about the workforce question and found that the bigger the company, the bigger the concern. Manufacturers with more than $5 million in revenue and more than 50 employees listed finding qualified workers as a concern at a rate of 42 percent and 41 percent, respectively. Whereas manufacturers with less than $1 million in revenue and less than 50 employees said finding qualified workers was a concern at a rate of 25 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

When asked how difficult it is to attract qualified candidates to fill their company’s vacancies, 68 percent of executives said it was difficult, compared to 29 percent who said it was not. The degree of difficulty increased outside of the metro area, as greater Minnesota manufacturers put the difficulty rating at 75 percent, compared to 22 percent who said it was not.

The most in-demand types of manufacturing jobs were: machine operator (38 percent), assembler (20 percent), welder (9 percent), front office or administrative help (7 percent), engineer (6 percent), supervisor (2 percent), senior leadership position (1 percent) and other (14 percent).

Other Results

Overall, Minnesota’s small- and medium-sized manufacturers are incredibly optimistic about the prospects of their companies over the coming year according to the ninth annual State of Manufacturing® survey. These findings, coupled with shrinking concerns about the global economy, suggest 2017 will be a year of growth for the state’s manufacturing industry.

Minnesota’s manufacturing executives nearly unanimously - 94 percent - report they are confident about the financial future of their companies, which is the highest recorded mark in the survey’s history and the fourth consecutive year that confidence has climbed. Fifty-seven percent said they are very confident, up 14 percent in just one year, and a 30-point improvement over the first survey in 2008.

For the first time in the survey’s history more manufacturers predict economic expansion in the coming year over a flat economy. This year, 58 percent of manufacturers forecast expansion, with only 32 percent choosing a “flat” year.  A record 55 percent of manufacturers expect to see increases in gross revenue this year, 11 points higher than the responses to the same question last year. Thirty-five percent of manufacturers expect revenues to increase by more than 10 percent in 2017 and 27 percent expect a double-digit increase in profitability, also record numbers.

The State of Manufacturing® survey is conducted by Enterprise Minnesota. Telephone interviews were conducted with over 400 manufacturing executives throughout the state. The phone survey is complemented by 10 focus groups with manufacturing executives, three focus groups with college students enrolled in manufacturing programs, and two focus groups with high school students interested in pursuing manufacturing as a career.

For the full report and to download the survey results, go