Career Builder Data Shows Woeful Lack of Available Machining Talent in Metro Detroit


Career Builder verified last week what many local manufacturers already know — there is a severe lack of manufacturing talent seeking new jobs in Metro Detroit. The Career Builder Active Candidate Ratio shows that there are 4 jobs for every 1 machinist in Metro Detroit.

Let me explain. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 9,600 active machinists (machine operators) in the Metro Detroit area. In a recent 90-day period, 346 of those machine operators posted their resume onto Career Builder, making themselves available for new job opportunities. In that same 90-day period, 1,372 help wanted ads were posted for machining talent. This data shows that in the Machine Operator category, the Active Candidate Ratio is .25% — essentially 4 jobs for every 1 job seeker.

Additionally, The National Association of Manufacturers recently published an article that indicates that manufacturers will need to replace 10 million workers in the next 15 years, and there isn’t going to be enough of an influx of new talent to handle the demand. As baby-boomers continue to retire at an above average rate in the skilled trade sector, the battle for manufacturing talent has arrived in Michigan and it’s only going to get worse.

We are advising our clients to hang onto their good talent, before some other company snaps them up, because there isn’t a plentiful, next generation of trained talent coming from the schools. A poll, sponsored by Nuts Bolts & Thingamajigs (NBT) and the Foundation of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA), “showed a majority of teens — 52 percent — have little or no interest in a manufacturing career and another 21 percent are ambivalent.”

For companies that are actively seeking a new manufacturing employee:

— If you interview someone and you like them, make them the job offer on the spot, don’t wait!
— Adjust your expectations: If the candidate is 80% of what you looking for, determine if he can learn the rest of the job. Holding out for the perfect candidate is rarely an option anymore.
— Consider missed opportunity costs. With the average down-time cost of $75 per hour of a non-operating machine ($600 of lost revenue, per 8-hour shift), not having a machinist is an expensive proposition.

The battle for manufacturing talent isn’t going away any time soon. The companies that will have a critical advantage over their competition for years to come are planning for the future by hiring fresh talent today and are strategically retaining the talent they currently have.