Workforce Attraction, Training and Retention For Manufacturers

Scott Dieckgraefe Insight

It’s heartening that the manufacturing sector has attracted such favorable press in the Midwest lately, but the hard truth is that many manufacturing and skilled trade positions have gone unfilled, leading many companies to scale back sales efforts. No company wants to pay salespeople to nurture leads, only to lose the sale for being unable to produce goods in a timely manner.

As reported by Industry Week, the National Association of Manufacturers forecasts that there will be 2.1 million unfilled domestic manufacturing positions by 2030. Industry Week (IW) suggests that current hiring models won’t shrink the gap, noting that manufacturers must become talent producers themselves, actively closing the gap through proactive alliances.

IW cites alliance examples including Lucid Motors, who partnered with local government, a community college and Arizona’s economic development agency to train their entire hourly workforce of 700-workers.

Similarly, BMW has grown their 11,000 employee workforce in South Carolina, announcing plans to open new training centers for high school seniors and people with degrees or experience in select fields. Through these efforts, BMW will open a $20 million training center to maintain their workforce readiness.

In the HVAC industry, Taco Comfort Solutions offers job-related skills training, assisting employees to grow their education – from GED to master’s degrees. They work with community colleges and four-year institutions in their home state of Rhode Island to make this a reality.

See what the US Department of Commerce says about the benefits of companies engaging with schools here.

Studio/D is quick to add that as important as alliances can be, developing an “employee-centric” culture makes a world of difference with retention and workforce attraction. We know of companies with great cultures experiencing virtually no turn-over, while many companies lacking a strong culture experience immense turn-over. Employees want to work for companies and people who care about them, and they want to feel an inherent worthiness to their labors.

Growth-oriented career opportunities are available for interested and driven people. Many local industry friends including Watlow, Cambridge Air Solutions, American Boiler & Mechanical, Emerson, Unico, and Marlo all recognize these needs and offer innovative programs to attract, train and retain great employees for skilled trade and manufacturing positions.

Gone are the days of uncaring management forcing employees to work in unpleasant conditions for little rewards. Manufacturing and skilled trades provide growth-oriented career opportunities for many people who may chose not to attend a college or university. While manufacturers have enhanced their offerings for skilled workers, government assistance is also available to companies and other organizations looking to emphasize talent growth and retention.


The state of Missouri provides recruitment assistance, apprenticeships and workforce training through the Missouri One Start program. This program is admittedly difficult to navigate or even to determine program details and opportunities, but it provides a starting point for interested companies to tap into Missouri resources to attract and train workers.


We applaud the Canadian government’s Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness program (STAR). The Canadian government invests in worker training through grants, loans and tax credits, across several programs.

Pre-apprenticeship training helps eliminate barriers to people who may be disadvantaged or marginalized, allowing them to prepare for training in skilled trades. The Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP) and Women in Construction Fund both have similar goals of attracting, training, and retaining workers in trades.

The Canadian Apprenticeship Service provides up to $10k (Canadian) per apprentice per year for four years, while including free access to:

  • Employer-apprentice matching services
  • Mentoring programs
  • Diversity and inclusion training

This program includes more than 30 construction trades and a dozen manufacturing trades. Additionally, Canada actively promotes skilled trades as a viable career choice through national ad campaigns.

We wish there were similar programs available through the US government (if you know of any, please let us know!).

We live and work in challenging times. Forward-thinking companies with employee-centric cultures, and who proactively attract, train and retain their workers have a huge advantage over other companies who employ yesterday’s human resources approaches. If you haven’t already proactively addressed your company’s culture and hiring/training approaches, you’re falling behind the companies that have done so.

Studio/D is a full-service marketing communications firm working with mid-market industrial and manufacturing clients, together with companies that support the manufacturing ecosystem. We’re a team of “makers” who simplify complex communication challenges with messaging that engages and drives results. Learn more about us at, or call our president, Scott Dieckgraefe at 314-200-2630.