ThomasNet.com® Analysis Reveals Threat to Future of Manufacturing Sector

Research Surfaces Disconnect Between Growth of Manufacturing Companies and Their Lack of Urgency Recruiting Fresh Talent

NEW YORK--At a time when innovations like additive manufacturing and robotics are powering up the manufacturing industry, a crack is slowly forming in this positive picture, according to an analysis from ThomasNet.com® being announced today. ThomasNet.com's 2013 Industry Market Barometer® survey has revealed a disconnect between the growth of manufacturing companies, and their lack of urgency recruiting fresh talent, that threatens the future of their sector.


"As a foundation of our economy, the manufacturing industry remains strong, and technology is giving companies more opportunities to grow. For the industry to benefit most in this era of innovation, manufacturers must step up efforts to share their passion for their careers with the next generation," said Eileen Markowitz, President, ThomasNet.

The 1,200 American manufacturers responding to this year's survey are effusive in describing how technological advances are improving their companies. As a result, they are growing, hiring, and increasing their production capacity to meet future demand. Nearly seven out of ten (67 percent) will also focus on introducing new or innovative products/services this year.

But a closer look at the findings reveals a pending shift in workforce demographics that could put this progress on hold, according to Ms. Markowitz. The individuals who completed ThomasNet.com's survey are representative of today's manufacturing workforce, which is heavily populated by employees who are 45 and older. With Generation Y (18-32 years old) expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, and Baby Boomers retiring in droves, manufacturing's "biological clock" is ticking away. Yet, eight out of ten manufacturers report that Generation Y represents a small fraction of their workforce, and most don't see this changing soon.

"These findings point to a need for a collective 'succession plan' for the manufacturing sector-starting yesterday. Manufacturers must engage new people to learn the business well before older generations exit," said Ms. Markowitz.

But attracting these new employees isn't always easy. Most of the respondents to ThomasNet.com's survey (73 percent) believe that young people still have negative perceptions that deter them from considering manufacturing jobs.

"These manufacturers wish they could draw back the curtain, and show the naysayers what they know so well: that the rewards of manufacturing are unparalleled. Respondents are vocal about the satisfaction they gain from creating something tangible, working in an environment of constant change, making a difference to customers from around the globe, and contributing to their country's economic well-being," she added.

Many of these manufacturers have developed partnerships with schools to engage their "best and brightest," and they consider educators important for their future. Respondents continue to call on high schools to offer more skills training, and to increase their emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

"These strategies, though, are just the tip of the iceberg. Rising generations need more than STEM knowledge; they need to understand why the companies that will value their backgrounds will nourish their lives and their souls. Whether we're talking with our children about their dreams at the kitchen table, taking them on plant tours, or bringing manufacturing speakers to schools during career fairs, we need to wear our hearts on our sleeves. Starting at the grassroots level, we can grease the wheels of this $1.9 trillion sector, carrying it toward an even more vibrant future," Ms. Markowitz said.

To download a free copy of ThomasNet.com's Industry Market Barometer, please go to www.thomasnet.com/imb. For additional written commentary from Eileen Markowitz, please contact Linda Rigano, Executive Director, Media Relations, ThomasNet, at 212-629-1522 or lrigano@thomasnet.com.

About ThomasNet®

ThomasNet is an information and technology company that connects manufacturing and industrial buyers and sellers. Buyers and engineers worldwide rely on ThomasNet.com®, industry's leading free platform for industrial/commercial product sourcing and supplier discovery. ThomasNet News® delivers industrial news and trends via a family of online publications and newsletters.

We enable suppliers to leverage their product content to increase sales, using our proprietary Navigator Platform technology. We also offer a suite of Internet and digital media solutions, from websites with product catalogs, to SEO/SEM services, to social media. Our Enterprise Solutions offer suppliers the benefits of syndicating product data across systems and sales channels.

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