Manufacturing is making a resurgence and ushering in a new era of growth and innovation. Technology advancements in manufacturing are creating a skills gap in the workforce– and filling these jobs is increasingly a challenge.

Two decades ago, many manufacturing jobs required employees to follow fixed, unchangeable procedures in order to safely operate or maintain mechanical machinery. As automated processes replace much of the manual workforce, however, demand for a new skill set is emerging.

Today’s jobs require employees to be independent decision makers who pay close attention to detail and are strong in spatial visualization and reasoning. Manufacturers need workers who can think critically about mechanical troubleshooting and machine programming, master complex logistics, and juggle ever-changing supply chain demands. These skills can’t be taught from a manual. Many require either trader certification or a bachelor’s degree in addition to on-the-job experience.

As we look forward to 2017, these will be some of the most in-demand skill sets for growing industries like construction, consumer products (including consumer package goods), and aerospace.

3 In-Demand Manufacturing Skill Sets for 2017

  1. Supply chain logistics management. Top supply chain experts are joining the C-suite and earning six-figure salaries. These executives have experience in purchasing, logistics, and resource planning and many hold certifications such as CPSM (Certified Professional in Supply Chain Management) and CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management). They are technology savvy, metrics-driven and performance-oriented.
  2. LEED certification. LEED is the world’s most widely used green building rating system with 201,000 LEED credential holders. The S. Green Building Council (USGBC) estimates that LEED construction will contribute 386,000 and $26.2 billion in wages to the economy by 2018. Commercial building owners and managers are expected to invest an estimated $960 billion globally in green infrastructure by 2023. As consumers and companies alike continue to opt for sustainable building design, LEED certification will be an important skill in the construction and building industries.
  3. STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). STEM workers are involved in the earliest stages of manufacturing. From designing the robots that automate the factory floor to improving product design, a STEM background can open doors to a variety of different jobs within the manufacturing industry.


In addition to technical skill sets like LEED certifications or a STEM background, soft skills count too. When I recruit for manufacturing jobs, I also look for inclusive, team-oriented leaders, quick learners and confident decision makers. With the manufacturing industry evolving at a rapid pace, the ability to quickly master new information and skill sets is critical for long-term success.