I've written extensively about the ongoing challenges in hiring for scare talent within the pharmaceutical and life sciences sector. But whilst we often think of scarce talent being for niche roles (such as regulatory affairs or biostatisticians in the pharma and life sciences sector), it is also very simply the roles for which demand outstrips supply. The manufacturing sector is a great example of this - whilst operator roles within manufacturing in the life sciences sector may appear to be easy to hire for, the hiring challenge is exacerbated in those locations for which the general labor pool is reduced, i.e. where demand outstrips supply.
The article below in Pharma Manufacturing talks to this point specifically and quotes a study from Deloitte and NAM that projects that "we could reach 2031 with 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs, and in that year alone, the skills and staffing shortages will cost the U.S. economy $1 trillion".
So what is to be done? As I wrote recently there is a light on the horizon. There are millions of hidden workers around the world who are underemployed or locked out of the labor market, 27 million hidden workers in the US alone. So we need to think far more broadly about how we hire for potential rather than just hiring for job-ready candidates as we have done in the past. And employers who hire for skills rather than prior experience are 60% more likely to find a successful hire.
Bu the challenge doesn't reside with Talent Acquisition specialists alone. The article from Pharma Manufacturing makes a great case for digitizing ways of working to create capacity for employees to add greater value; "Pharma manufacturers need to employ systems that create efficiencies for workers so they can do more in less time. Digitization also makes it possible to retain and engage current employees, attract tech-savvy talent and meet growing demand."
Whilst digitization (including automation and artificial intelligence) has often been feared as a new industrial revolution which will replace jobs, leading companies are recognizing the value that digitization will provide to their employees. And let's face it, with a potential deficit of 2.1m manufacturing workers within less than a decade, taking away jobs may be the least of our concerns right now.
Which all takes me back to a vision of the talent function of the future. An environment in which we know the skills that we have in place today and the skills that we will need in the future. An environment in which we digitize to make roles more interesting and to maximize the value that our workers can provide. An environment in which we hire for potential rather than just job-readiness. And an environment in which we engage, develop, progress and retain our talent by focusing on upskilling and reskilling.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) reports that between 2023 and 2031, the U.S. labor pool will only grow 0.2% per year. Left unchecked, the issue of having a disproportionate number of jobs compared to qualified candidates could have an overwhelming impact on the economy. The 2021 Deloitte and NAM talent study estimates that we could reach 2031 with 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs, and in that year alone, the skills and staffing shortages will cost the U.S. economy $1 trillion.