Let’s dedicate a few minutes to paying extra attention to how the skills gap can be closed.

Author Lisa Hellqvist | Managing Director, Copperberg

Photo: Freepik

Manufacturing has traditionally been a male-dominated industry—just less than one third of manufacturing employees are women, and often not even 1 in 4 in leading positions. However, the industry is at a tipping point, and its future depends on a diverse workforce. Though there have been improvements in recent years, women are still underrepresented in the manufacturing industry.

Ever since we launched our very first Aftermarket event in 2009, talent and competence management was on the agenda. How to bridge the knowledge gap with the aging workforce? A few years after that we launched our Field Service Forum and the question of finding talent arose. And trust me, these questions are still top of mind. For example in one of our recent surveys 85% of the respondents said that they either foresee or are already experiencing a shortage of skilled labor within service.

We live in a world of paradoxes

On the one hand, political and manufacturing leaders tell us that there is an increasing skills gap. In the US alone, it is estimated by Deloitte that 2 million jobs between 2015 and 2025 within the manufacturing industry will go unfulfilled, because manufacturing companies will not find the appropriately skilled talent to fill new positions.

On the other hand, the industry is not leveraging the full potential of the talents that are available in the job market. 

Make sure you do not exclude 50% of the talent out of old habits

So either if it is the hen or the egg that is the root cause to the problem, one can in a very factual way just point out that by not fully attracting talent from the talent pool that is female, the manufacturing industry is up for a challenge as roughly half of the world’s population is female.

It may be old prejudice and preconceptions about what it entails to work at an industrial manufacturer that causes this, but then it is time to face the challenge and re-brand the industry and what opportunities are out there.

On how to do that, the experts seem to be extremely unified on the short- listed actions:

  • Re-brand and renew your value proposition as a manufacturing employer
  • Make sure you offer a fair salary structure, and have that gender pay gap closed
  • Foster female leaders and role models within the organization

The industry has a lot to offer in the rapid pace it is moving towards a faster, digitized, agile environment while also opening up for new roles and positions where diversity of all kinds is proven to be beneficial.

Wind of change – There are brighter times ahead

I do sense a change myself. After 13 years in Copperberg and on a daily basis having discussions with representatives in the industry it is today way more likely that the person I speak to in a senior position is a woman. Previously this has been a numbers game that definitely has worked against me. 

It is not only me sensing that change, for example we see an uptake in graduated female engineers. In Sweden over the last 10 years the increase of graduates that are women increased with 10%. A maybe small, but significant, number.

As the industry also shifts its demand for different skill sets- it will most likely also become more attractive for a larger variety of talents, creating by default a more inclusive arena. 

This is great news – and hopefully the beginning of a continuous development in the right direction. As research shows companies with women well represented at top positions are 50 percent more likely to outperform their peers it is also a very competitive advantage to make sure you structure your organization for improved gender equality.

So back to my initial request – Let’s dedicate a few minutes today making sure we assess whether or not your organization is going to be regarded as an attractive employer, and if not, what can you do to improve that position? Basically the ball is yours to play.

This is of course not a challenge that can be fixed on this 1 day a year – so hopefully the following 364 days will be spent with the same engagement and reflection.

P.S. Do you want to help us at Copperberg improve the gender balance at our events by recommending great case studies led by women in service? – email me directly

*Did you know that 80% of the Copperberg team are women?

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 3