- Associated Press - Friday, May 18, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - An annual manufacturing survey by a Minnesota industry organization shows the state’s sector may face labor shortages.

Enterprise Minnesota’s survey says manufacturers are concerned about finding enough workers to fill positions as baby boomers retire and job availability increases, the Star Tribune reported . The survey released Thursday was conducted by Meeting Street Research and included about 400 respondents and 60 focus group participants.

About 65 percent of the respondents expect to expand this year, doubling the percentage from 2016, the report said.

The anticipated workforce shortage will counter the industry’s otherwise optimistic view, the report said.

About half of the respondents said hiring and retention is the biggest challenge they face.

Smaller firms are less likely to prepare for the anticipated shortage through improved leadership training, increased productivity or strategic planning, said Bob Kill, CEO of Enterprise Minnesota.

“The ability of Minnesota’s manufacturers to weather the (labor) crisis - and come out stronger - will depend on how well they prepare for its challenges rather than react to them,” Kill said.

Booming sales may be distracting manufacturers from the looming workforce crisis, said pollster Rob Autry. Manufacturing executives have “almost surreally high levels about their companies’ financial prospects for 2018,” he said.

Some factory officials are asking workers who are eligible to retire to stay on the job a few additional years or take on part-time hours so production doesn’t slow as companies work to hire new employees.

The Wyoming Machine metal precision shop in Stacy, Minnesota is working with community technical colleges to recruit and train potential workers, said Traci Tapani, the show’s co-owner.

Manufacturers are also concerned about health care costs, the survey said.

The Legislature created Enterprise Minnesota to counsel factory operators on strategies for being more profitable, efficient and successful. The organization will hold forums across the state about the survey results over the new few months.


Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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