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One of the biggest struggles for manufacturing right now

Written on Oct 7, 2021
By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager  

One of the major pain points for the manufacturing industry is the same one that many others are dealing with: talent.  

“The thing that they're struggling with now mostly is people,” said Jason Tuma, CPA, partner at Sikich LLP in Akron. “It feels like manufacturers, for the most part, have the work. Now the challenge is just getting the people in the door to get the work done.”  

While Tuma has been working with manufacturing clients for more than a decade, he said finding talent has always been an issue. Lately, however, it’s become even more pressing.  

“Pre-pandemic, it was mostly skilled labor,” he said. “They were looking for skilled machinists or skilled welders or someone with a with a skillset that is high in demand. And manufacturers are always struggling to find those. But now as we're in the pandemic, it's really all across the board.”  

Tuma said manufacturing is now competing more with food services and thinking of ways to entice people to apply. Things like signing bonuses, benefit packages and more vacation time are also being offered.  

One manufacturer Tuma knows is beginning to work more closely with Northeast Ohio high schools. They’re identifying students who might not be interested in going to college and bring them in to work in a part-time setting to start to expose them to manufacturing. 

Another popular way to find people is to bring in a number of people from a temp agency and hope some stay permanently, but that can be difficult if temp agencies themselves are struggling to find people.  

And while more employers are mandating the vaccine for staff, manufacturers have largely stayed quiet on the issue to avoid turning off the workforce they do have. 

“I think employers are hesitant to require it,” he said. “Just because they are hesitant to alienate a portion of their workforce or to offend them.”  

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