Addressing the Skills-Gap in the Material Handling Industry

Browsing the headlines, it’s impossible to deny there’s a skills-gap threatening all branches of industry. As school curricula have changed to prepare students for college directly after graduation, young people are increasingly shifting away from vocational schools and opportunities. This presents a major problem for the United States industrial sector, which relies on a constant supply of fresh talent to accommodate an aging workforce nearing retirement. This is especially urgent today, as the Baby Boomers who have led industry for decades are now tasked with the challenge of finding a large enough talent pool to take the reins before they retire.

According to ThomasNet’s Industry Market Barometer released last year, 78% of survey respondents describe themselves as between the ages of 45 and 65 or older. Even if many of these professionals don’t plan to retire or leave any time in the near future, training and transitioning their eventual replacements can take years. And smaller companies face their own challenges, including not having a dedicated Human Resources department, in many cases. For employees, this can be a benefit, since there’s more leeway in creating and maintaining company policies. In smaller companies there may be more flex-time and the ability to work from home. But for the company itself, not having a staff specifically for recruitment can make it difficult to find the right people for any given job.

To address this problem, it’s important for employers to regularly look for people with varied skill-sets who can excel in numerous capacities. For example, here at Liftomatic, a Production Manager came to us after having served in the Air Force. His particular background included logistics and linguistics. This is a huge advantage to us because he can read and speak Chinese, which is an asset in global distribution. Though he didn’t have as much production experience, that was something we could teach him. Our staff is not immune to the threat of getting older, so it’s vitally important that we’re always on the look-out for talent that will be able to fill a number of roles as the need arises.

Though the industry is evolving, it’s important to note that it is, and has always been, a cornerstone of the American economy. Your groceries could not have gotten onto store shelves without specialized equipment moving it through production, to shipping, to the stockroom. Your car could not run without its oil having been transported in drums across vast distances. Material handling, and industry in general, relies on people to keep the supply chain moving. And we’re constantly looking for those people who have the skills and passion to continue moving us forward.