1 in 3 Massachusetts Manufacturers report struggling to find workers UMass Dartmouth survey finds

6 in 10 report that they expect to add production workers in next 2 years

1 in 3 Bay State manufacturers (33%) report having a difficult time hiring the production workers they need according to a UMass Dartmouth survey of 1,350 manufacturing firms conducted for the Advanced Manufacturing Regional Partnership Academy (AMRPA), a key initiative of the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (AMC). 6 in 10 (60%) of these same firms report that they expect to employ more production workers in two years than they do today.

"These findings provide us with strong evidence that Massachusetts workforce development and educational institutions face a significant but targeted challenge," noted UMass Dartmouth Professor Michael Goodman who is leading the AMRPA effort. "Our findings are consistent with recent MIT research that also finds that, while the scale of this challenge is more modest than some have claimed, we can solve this problem if we can strengthen the connections between those employers with very real workforce needs and our vocational high schools, community colleges, and workforce development agencies," Goodman added.

Survey results suggest that this challenge is present in each of the six major sectors that make up the larger advanced manufacturing industry in Massachusetts. The challenge appears particularly acute in the Fabricated Metals and Machinery sector where 42% of firms surveyed reported difficulty sourcing the workers that they need. When firms in this sector, which is largely composed of small and medium sized machine shops, were asked whether the availability of a skilled workforce was a cause for concern for their firm when considering their future prospects in Massachusetts, 70% expressed concern.

In addition, the survey found that:

90 percent of firms surveyed agreed that, if a potential production worker has the right attitude and basic skills, they are willing and able to provide them with the additional training required.

79 percent indicated that they have the resources they require to train new production workers. 83 percent reported having the resources to train existing production staff.

57 percent of firms reported that they require their new production workers to have relevant industry experience. 79 percent reported that they prefer their new production workers to have experience.

A strong majority of firms report that they have never worked with key public institutions including their local comprehensive high schools (73%), community colleges (69%), four-year universities (76%), and workforce investment boards (83%). 16 percent reported working regularly or frequently with temporary staffing agencies and 10 percent report working closely with vocational high schools.

"Thanks to the innovation and entrepreneurship of the more than 7,000 manufacturing businesses in Massachusetts, manufacturing has a bright future in the Commonwealth," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki. "We must continue to support our advanced manufacturing partnerships in their ongoing efforts to effectively engage employers and strategically coordinate regional educational and workforce development efforts to meet their needs."

"As the survey results show, finding skilled workers remains a critical need for the Commonwealth's manufacturers," said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. "MassDevelopment is pleased to work with the Patrick Administration and UMass Dartmouth on important initiatives like AMP it up!and the regional partnership academy to address this challenge."

The margin of error for the entire survey sample (N=1,350) is +/-2.7 percentage points at a 95% confidence interval. This means that in 19 out of every 20 samples drawn using the same methodology, estimated proportions based on the entire sample will be no more than 2.7 percentage points away from their true values in the population. The margin of error is larger for subgroups and cross-tabulations. The survey data was collected between March 12 and April 7, 2014. Survey questions and topline results can be found below.

About the Advanced Manufacturing Regional Partnership Academy (AMRPA)

The AMRPA is a collaborative effort of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the Executive Office of Education, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the University of Massachusetts.

The Academy is an effort aimed at accelerating the adoption of best practices, capacity building and industry engagement in regions throughout the state. The Academy brings together manufacturers, workforce investment boards and academia to help regions develop sustainable and effective partnerships that respond to industry needs.

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is leading a multi-campus team of UMass faculty and staff experts and consultants that are designing and implementing the research, technical assistance, and educational activities of the Academy. The Academy is funded by MassDevelopment through the Advanced Manufacturing Futures Fund.

About the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative

On November 28, 2011, Governor Patrick announced the launch of the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (AMC) -- a group comprised of leaders from industry, academia and government that has come together to enhance the competitiveness of Massachusetts manufacturing and lead the national effort to revitalize this country as a place that makes things.

For more information please contact:

Michael D. Goodman, Associate Professor of Public Policy
Principal Investigator, MA Advanced Manufacturing Regional Partnership Academy
617.823.2770; mgoodman@umassd.edu

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