Workforce Development for Manufacturers


Email Workforce Development Consultant, Tim Waldo, for more information.

Schedule a meeting with Tim: 



wfd guide

Download the Manufacturer's Guide to Finding and Retaining Talent


The talent shortage and skills gap has reached a critical level for manufacturing companies. Attracting and retaining a quality workforce was one of the top two business challenges in a recent NAM Outlook Survey, cited by 80% of respondents. Even before the pandemic, manufacturers found it difficult to attract and retain qualified workers. Driving factors include an aging workforce and resulting retirements, changing skill requirements driven by advanced technology, a lack of awareness among students and parents of the career opportunities available in manufacturing, and company talent management processes that have not adapted to the new realities of the labor market. In this environment, manufacturers need to strengthen and optimize every aspect of their talent management.

Successful companies get superior business results by doing two simple things exceptionally well:

  • They build effective programs to select, develop and retain talent.
  • They engage and invest in all employees — from top leadership to the shop floor — by giving them tools for solving problems and taking ownership of their roles.

As part of The MEP National Network, The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services, offers an extensive range of workforce services and resources that address every stage of the employee lifecycle. Services include talent assessment and planning, attraction and recruitment, training and development for production workers as well as leadership, employee engagement and retention, and more broadly creating an effective organizational culture to become an employer of choice.

talent management process chart


UTCIS's manufacturing training programs are tailored to our regions specific needs and offers support in each of the areas described below.

Assessment and Planning

Improving organizational performance is a top priority for manufacturers and nearly impossible to do without a properly trained workforce. It can be hard to know where to focus your resources with so many workforce challenges. UTCIS offers a holistic approach to help manufacturers overcome workforce challenges through a systematic process. This process generally begins with a formal or informal assessment to understand your goals, challenges and gaps.

Attraction and Recruitment

Your company’s ability to fill open positions is critical to its long-term success as a reliable supplier to your customers. UTCIS can support your hiring needs with knowledge of workforce development and training programs offered.

Examples of ways we can help include:

  • Developing a hiring plan to attract the suitable candidates
  • Creating succinct job postings using the job description to market the position to the right people
  • Organizing and executing employee recruitment activities that reach a wide variety of candidates including underrepresented populations like women and minorities, veterans, displaced workers, etc
  • opportunities, developing customized training and coordinating with local, state and national training partners and apprenticeship programs
  • Working as an extension of your HR department to assist with recruitment best practices
  • Building the manufacturing talent pipeline by creating awareness of manufacturing career opportunities through events such as Manufacturing Day.

Training and Development

UTCIS can help with training and skills development for manufacturing workers and supervisors, from creating a structured onboarding process for new employees to developing skills among your current employees. We will assess your needs and organizational goals and help develop a program that is specific to your company and its needs.

By focusing on training and skills development from the shop floor to your leadership, your employees will increase their knowledge base and perform their job better – often leading to increased job satisfaction and retention.

UTCIS, along with local education and economic development partners, offers training in basic workplace skills such as:

  • Effective communication
  • Working in teams and problem solving
  • Technical skills like reading a blueprint or geometric dimensioning and tolerancing
  • Lean and process improvement methodologies to help create a high-performance culture

UTCIS can also help provide supervisors and managers with essential leadership skills, such as:

  • Communicating for results
  • Developing a culture of engagement
  • Motivating others
  • Delegating for empowerment
  • Managing conflict

UTCIS offers Training within Industry (TWI), a methodology that quickly and consistently trains employees who are new to the world of manufacturing. At its core, this training – targeted at production supervisors and team leaders – provides a set of tools to effectively teach new staff the right way to perform their job. Companies that implement TWI have seen the time to develop new hires into productive workers cut in half, along with reductions in scrap and rework.

Engagement and Retention

Engaging and retaining current staff is critical to maximize productivity and reduce turnover. Hiring and developing new staff is an investment, and engaging staff maximizes that investment. UTCIS can help in a variety of areas that impact retention, including employee engagement surveys, compensation and recognition systems and assistance to develop career pathways, build a culture of teamwork and create a learning organization.

Becoming an Employer of Choice

Creating a positive workplace culture that successfully attracts and retains talent takes work, and does not just occur on its own. Working with UTCIS to be effective in all stages of talent management from assessment and planning to engagement and retention enables manufacturers to develop a reputation as an employer of choice in their region.

Tags Workforce Development