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The Fluid Systems Engineering and Management Blog

by Swagelok Northern California

We Can Help You Close the Growing Skills Gap

by Jeff Hopkins, on 1/9/19 8:45 AM

As baby boomers retire, they take decades of knowledge and experience

"2 million engineering and manufacturing jobs will go unfilled as baby boomers retire"

- Prediction from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute 

The retirement party is over, and Al or Alice is heading out the door for the last time. You'll miss them, sure. But do you really know what you'll be missing? A lot of executives don't realize the scope of what they've lost until it's too late.

Let's look at it from your customer's perspective. They trusted Al. He knew their operations, their problem areas, their priorities. The new guy? He may have a steep learning curve to navigate, and even then may not bring the same depth of knowledge.

Let's also look at it from the new guy's perspective. Alice left behind a full list of contacts. Great. But it's not much more than a list of names and job titles. Who is the best resource for which problems? When should you call them? Which ones are reliable?

If you've brought in fresh talent from outside your company, the new hire also has to get acclimated to your way of doing business. What are the norms that aren't written down anywhere? That takes time and effort to learn, time and effort that diverts attention from serving your customers.

Skills gap

The loss of institutional knowledge has become critical in the past decade as baby boomers started retiring. Today the generation born between 1946 and 1964 is leaving the workforce at a rate of about 1.2 million people a year. A deep well of applied experience vanishes overnight, leaving many organizations in between a rock and a hard place.

At the same time, a recent study of the Hays Global Skills Index shows a decline of available engineering and manufacturing skilled workers for the fifth consecutive year. This rate is expected to keep increasing over the next five to 10 years. The driving factors are a lack of education and training flexibility, seasoned employees retiring at a higher rate, fewer students studying a STEM-based curriculum, and competitive wage pressures. A 2016 IET Demand Report suggests that 68 percent of engineering employers say that incoming students do not have the skills required to effectively keep a plant up and running.

Aerotek Staffing predicts that companies will feel the most pressure sourcing and replacing process and mechanical engineers, industrial maintenance and machining professionals, welders, and skilled assembly technicians.

A report from consulting firm Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute predicts that as many as 2 million engineering and manufacturing jobs will go unfilled as baby boomers retire.


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The impact on your business

When your company can't fill engineering and skilled manufacturing jobs, projects begin to fall behind and production slows. That hurts your relationship with customers, which translates into less profitability. Ultimately, it is estimated that the retirement of baby boomers in the next five to ten years will result in $100 million of lost revenue for manufacturing companies with revenue exceeding $1 billion.


How Swagelok can help

Swagelok Northern California can help you respond to the growing skills gap in important ways. We offer a wide variety of customer education and training programs to bring new industrial associates up to speed faster, or to keep seasoned employees sharp. This includes our quarterly training in tube fitting safety and installation and the basics of tube bending. 

We also have an Assembly Services department that can assist you in solving fluid system design challenges, and assemble subsystems so that all you have to do is hook them up and get right to work. You can see our design optimization service in action in this video on our Check My Design page, and read about how other businesses benefited from our assembly services in these case studies

Assembly Services 


Topics:TrainingAssembly Services

We perform under pressure

Your fluid systems can't fail—and they can't leak. That's why Swagelok Northern California offers mission critical solutions for the petrochem, semi, power, and oil and gas industries around the Bay Area and into NW Nevada. We manufacture and assemble reliable, customizable components that get the job done. Contact our team today to learn about custom solutions for your plant or refinery.

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