The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was felt quite heavily in the manufacturing industry, with a historical drop being recorded in industrial profits. Now, as 2021 begins, the pandemic has increased in intensity, even with vaccines beginning to be distributed. As such, there are new worries that manufacturers may see similar or worse drops than those experienced last spring, which might severely hamper or undue any recovery so far.
However, within the industry itself, it seems there is a renewed sense of optimism. Two recent manufacturing surveys by Axios showed that investment spending had reached a new all-time high since last January, signaling new confidence in long-term projects. The consistent demand throughout the pandemic for consumer goods, reshoring of supply chains, and integration of new technologies also have created hope that a rebound may not only come sooner than expected but be much stronger as well.
Still, there are some current issues that could cause problems down the line. For instance, many manufacturers are struggling to find and retain skilled workers. They’re also not fully embracing the capabilities that the new technology on the market can offer them, either due to inexperience or not having the money available to do so.
For those like Kevin Lamarr Jones, the President, and CEO of ECM Performance Materials Corp, it’s this integration of new technology that will be the most important step. To him, manufacturers will need to keep up “not only to remain competitive but to survive.” James T. Batchelder, who is the President of The M.K. Morse Company believes that a good way to overcome the gap in skilled labor is by introducing “opportunities in manufacturing to the younger generation.” Things like tours, job shadowing, and internships could help show the benefits of working in manufacturing, and in the long term, help bring in new, exciting skilled labor into the industry.
For another look ahead at manufacturing, listen to Manufacturing Talk Radio’s Episode 509: The Look Forward: ISM’s Semi-Annual Forecast on Manufacturing and Services