Manufacturers across the New North are optimistic on 2019, with companies planning to hire more workers and spend more on modernizations, according to the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance 2019 Manufacturing Vitality Index.
The annual survey, which was administered by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Center for Customized Research Services, found that 59 percent of manufacturers plan to hire during the first quarter of 2019, with 45 percent planning to hire more employees overall next year. When it comes to business investment, 70 percent plan to invest in modernization and after seeing strong sales in 2018, 80 percent of manufacturers anticipate the same for 2019.
“It’s a very bullish report,” says NEW Manufacturing Alliance Executive Director Ann Franz. “Companies are, overall, strong. They are reinvesting in their companies via modernization and expansion. They are seeing a strong increase in customers. Lastly, we continue, not surprisingly, to see a huge stress for manufacturers in finding workforce.”
When it comes to hiring new workers, finding skilled employees will remain a key issue for manufacturers, Franz says. In 2019, 88 percent will have trouble filling their open positions – a dramatic increase from the 29 percent of employers in 2011 who could not find the workers they needed.
General labor positions, machinists and CNC machinists and engineers remain the hardest jobs to fill in the region and while most of the unfilled jobs require some post-secondary education, most do not require a four-year degree, Franz says.
“What’s good for the workforce in terms of looking at this report is, ‘Hey, I can break into manufacturing without any post-secondary education.’ However, there are a lot of jobs that do require it,” she says.
The annual survey was completed by New North manufacturers with $3 million or more in annual revenue and 25 or more employees.