Shortage of Skilled Workers and Technology Leave 40% of Manufacturers Struggling to Stay Competitive

March 23, 2023 by Damond Goodwin

Rockwell Automation has completed its annual "State of Smart Manufacturing Report," finding that the skilled worker shortage and lag in the implementation of new technology are leaving manufacturers unsure of how to stay competitive.

In recent years an increasing shortage of skilled labor has led companies to rethink their business strategy to overcome the problem. The shortage has led to a lag in manufacturing growth for some companies as a result, and some companies like Schneider Electric have even started scholarship programs to encourage the next generation of skilled labor into the workforce. 


Rockwell Automation's annual State of Smart Manufacturing Report surveyed more than 1350 manufacturers worldwide.

Rockwell Automation's annual "State of Smart Manufacturing Report" surveyed more than 1350 manufacturers worldwide. Image used courtesy of Rockwell Automation


In addition to the necessary workforce pipeline, manufacturers need a steady influx of technological advancement and implementation into manufacturing processes for steady growth. A Rockwell Automation study has found plenty of technology available to manufacturers, but choosing the appropriate technology to implement can be a challenge.  


Rockwell Study Findings

Rockwell Automation has recently completed its 8th annual "State of Smart Manufacturing Report." The report is used to gauge the use and value of smart technology in the manufacturing environment. This year's results have shown that manufacturers experienced some significant changes compared to previous years' reports.  

The Rockwell "State of Smart Manufacturing" report is a global survey that involved more than 1350 manufacturers worldwide in the 13 leading manufacturing countries. The survey can be used to gauge the impact of the following:

  • quality

  • smart manufacturing technology

  • cybersecurity

  • supply chain management

  • data insights

The report helps create a better understanding of what manufacturers are focusing on in reference to current market trends, available technology, and the available workforce. This year the report showed manufacturers have placed emphasis on leveraging the true potential of manufacturing data and smart manufacturing implementation.  


Rockwell's report found that manufacturers have placed emphasis on leveraging the true potential of manufacturing data and smart manufacturing implementation. Image used courtesy of Business Wire


Need for New Technology

Many companies are looking to produce profitable company growth without a reduction in the quality of their product. This has led to an increase in the need for new technology and an increasing need for a skilled labor force. Many hope that the adoption of new technology will keep growth sustainable in the upcoming year. About 36% of manufacturers believe that they will be able to retrain their current workforce in order to operate the newly implemented systems.

From the survey, Rockwell found that 45% of manufacturers state that "improving quality" is one of the main results to be achieved with smart manufacturing. In addition, 42% of manufacturers are using ESG policies to help improve efficiency, and 95% of manufacturers have implemented some ESG initiatives. 

40% of manufacturers feel they lack the needed technology to stay competitive

More and more manufacturers feel they lack the latest technology needed to stay competitive. Image used courtesy of Adobe Stock


Outpacing Competition

Many manufacturers state that technology looks to be the best option to improve their competitiveness in the marketplace, and two times the number of manufacturers think they are falling behind in the technology needed to remain competitive. 

Part of this is due to "technology paralysis" caused by an excess of technology options to implement, leaving manufacturers wondering what their best options for new technology are. This excess in technology leads to an inability to decide properly on the best option to invest in. 

Many manufacturers have partnered with industry experts to help mitigate "technology paralysis" while gaining a better perspective on the usefulness of newly developed technologies.