Often the U.S. manufacturing sector is often praised for having built a thriving American middle class and solidifying the nation as an industrial force. But, in recent years the industry has been seriously challenged to maintain its competitive standing, which was put into sharp effect when Detroit — a manufacturing-focused region — endured the debilitating effects of its residents abandoned the city by the millions, and ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Since the 2007-2009 recession, the manufacturing sector has dealt with multiple impediments to its full recovery, and its has seen sparks of revitalization. Hiring is beginning to pick up and more jobs are available, but there are fewer qualified candidates to fill these roles. Effective training may be the remedy to this Skills Gap issue.

It’s worse than you think —  There is no denying that a Skills Gap is plaguing the manufacturing sector, and one of the greatest challenges that manufacturers must address now is to convince a new generation of workers to make the same career choice they made a generation ago (or more.)

The Skills Gap is particularly distressing in industrial engineering, a vital aspect of innovation in manufacturing. Though industrial engineering is one of the fastest growing fields in engineering overall, it has one of the largest populations of nearly retired workers. In fact, 25% of industrial engineers are 55 years old, or older, and soon will be leaving factories and offices for lakeside cabins and a book-lined family room. There aren’t enough new candidates to replace them.

Manufacturing operations already know the ramifications of this wide Skills Gap; industrial engineering had three times more unique monthly job postings than average monthly hires from 2012 to 2014.

Industrial engineering is far from being the only manufacturing niche affected by this Skills Gap. Studies by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte estimate that the U.S. manufacturing sector will have a shortage of 2 million workers, across the board, over the next decade.

Skills become outdated — The Skills Gap is made more acute because the skills that many workers have and list on résumés will remain valid for just a few years, at best. A study conducted by Bridge by Instructure discovered that 75% of college-educated workers believe the knowledge and skills in their field become outdated quickly. Moreover, 90% of them think that changes in their field require them to update their knowledge and learn new professional skills.

The problem of the Skills Gap — heightened by highly perishable skills — underscores the critical need for companies across the manufacturing sector to offer recurring, effective and relevant training to their employees. To be more appealing to the incoming workforce and to bolster their existing one, manufacturing organizations need to provide continuous education that will "upskill" their employees.