A shortage of skilled workers is something we hear about again and again in the industry. But how strong is the demand for skilled workers in mechanical and plant engineering really? And what measures can companies take to combat this?
How do machinery and plant manufacturers view the current situation with regard to the shortage of skilled workers?
The shortage of skilled workers is clearly noticeable in the mechanical and plant engineering sector. 43% of mechanical engineering companies complain of a shortage of skilled workers, according to the ifo Business Survey* of July 2022. And there is no improvement in sight: according to the VDMA*, 40% of companies expect the shortage of skilled workers to worsen in the near future.
As a result of the shortage of skilled workers, offers can no longer be accepted and there is a threat of production downtime. In the long term, a shortage of skilled workers will lead to lost sales.
“The shortage of skilled workers and demographics are seen by the respondents as the greatest risk among eight current key issues facing the machinery and plant engineering industry – and are even named ahead of challenges such as inflation, decoupling or climate change” says Florian Scholl, labour market statistics expert at VDMA.
In addition to the loss of workforce, there is also a loss of expertise. Many employees take most of their product and solution knowledge with them when they retire. New employees first have to reach this level of expertise. This does, of course, require a great deal of time and effort and involves enormous financial resources for the company.
Risk factor: Demographic change and personnel bottlenecks
The main cause of a shortage of skilled workers at present is demographic change. We live in an aging society, which means that more and more workers are retiring than entering the workforce. Current projections indicate that there will already be 3.9 million fewer people of working age in 2030 (Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection).
Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find and attract skilled workers. After all, in times of staff shortages, employees have the freedom to choose from a wide range of job offers.
A shortage of skilled workers or a personnel bottleneck?
A shortage of skilled workers exists when a strong demand for skilled workers remains unmet over an extended period of time. . In concrete terms, this means there are more vacancies for skilled workers than there are workers on the market. If this shortage of skilled personnel is not nationwide but affects only some regions or industries, the situation is also known as a skilled labour bottleneck.
How to combat the shortage of skilled workers
A number of measures are in place to mitigate the skills shortage and its effects.
The experts at the VDMA see immigration as a way of combating the shortage of skilled workers. Since 01 March 2020, the Skilled Workers Immigration Act has been in force in the Federal Republic of Germany. This law is intended to facilitate regulations for the immigration of skilled workers from abroad. The VDMA demands that these facilitations be examined. Among other things, the association is calling for further facilitation for the immigration of apprentices from abroad.
However, simply taking on more employees is not always the solution. Especially in times of a shortage of skilled workers, it is worth taking a closer look at one’s own processes. How can work be done more efficiently? And how can expertise be embedded in the company and not just in the heads of individuals?
CPQ software can be a solution here – especially for plant and mechanical engineering. CPQ stands for Configure, Price, Quote. The solution thus extends from product configuration to pricing and quoting, and beyond. The software is firmly embedded in these processes and helps to optimise them.
CPQ software relieves staff of the burden of unnecessary work, so they can focus on more important things. This gives employees more time, for example, to provide better advice or to create more quotations. . In addition, the software reduces the need for coordination between sales and production, because all the product knowledge is stored in the configurator’s rule set. This saves time and helps to avoid unnecessary errors!
From individual knowledge monopolies to digital corporate knowledge
So while many professionals are retiring and with them their expertise, CPQ software is ensuring the opposite This is because the entire object dependencies of a product are recorded in the software when the configurator is set up and stored here. The knowledge held by individuals is thus digitised and saved for the company. In this way, the expertise remains within the firm thanks to the CPQ solution.
Better integration of existing resources
In addition, it is important to consider the different types of staff available, because here there are also opportunities to combat the shortage of skilled workers. For example, parents can be offered more flexible work schedules that allow them to work longer hours. Older skilled staff should also be retained by the company. Early retirement contributes significantly to the acute shortage of skilled workers. Also, people with disabilities can be better integrated and the work environment made more inclusive, and the working hours of part-time staff can be increased.
Making companies more attractive
Young workers in particular have a wide range of potential employers to choose from. Therefore, the future workplace must offer other benefits in addition to an attractive salary. Flexible working hours as well as the right corporate culture and hybrid working models can play a role here.
Companies are not free to choose
The times when employers could pick and choose employees are slowly coming to an end. It is now much more important for companies to fully exploit their own potential and to make the company as attractive as possible for employees. Only in this way can orders continue to be accepted and processed in the future.
If you would like to find out more about CPQ software and the other advantages of a configurator, then please to not hesitate to get in touch with us:
Ifo Business Survey July 2022: https://www.ifo.de/pressemitteilung/2022-08-16/maschinenbauern-fehlen-mehr-fachkraefte
Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection: https://www.bmwk.de/Redaktion/EN/Dossier/skilled-professionals.html