How Manufacturing Leaders Can Thrive Despite Historic Talent Shortage

A close-up of an engineer as she works on manufacturing equipment. Because of the manufacturing talent shortage and skills gap, manufacturing leaders may struggle to find workers like this one who are skilled with Industry 4.0 technology. But personality assessments can help manufacturers thrive as they face these historic talent challenges.

The manufacturing industry is no stranger to talent challenges. But even the most seasoned manufacturing leaders agree that the last few years have been especially tough.

First, consider the manufacturing talent shortage and skills gap — the reality that there are more open job positions in manufacturing than there are workers ready to fill them.1 According to the Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute’s skills gap and future of work study, 89% of manufacturing executives agree there is a talent shortage in the U.S. manufacturing sector, up from 84% in 2015.2

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and no other industry saw a more significant increase in quits or job openings relative to pre-pandemic levels than manufacturing.3 But it doesn’t stop there. Global supply chain disruptions were either caused or made worse by labor shortages (depending on whom you ask).4

Finally, manufacturers feel the pressure to stay competitive. This means upgrading facilities to include more technology, automation, and robotics. Yet even with smart technology, manufacturing organizations still need the talent to plan, implement, and leverage that technology. The technology itself can’t replace most of the skilled labor manufacturers need to compete in an Industry 4.0 world.5

Proven Strategies for Talent Acquisition and Talent Development

Experts predict that the manufacturing talent shortage is likely to continue. If you are in an HR, talent acquisition, or talent development role within manufacturing, you probably have more significant talent challenges than ever before. The skills gap, pandemic, supply chain, and next-generation facilities are a lot to plan around, and much is still uncertain. But there are some positive signs.  

In its 2022 manufacturing industry outlook, Deloitte found that the manufacturing industry is building back fast, undeterred by significant labor and supply chain challenges.6 Plus, manufacturing still ranks sixth in number of employees among U.S. industries.7 As of March 2022, the industry employed more than 12.6 million manufacturing workers.7

While you may not be able to predict all of the most in-demand technical skills you’ll need over the next decade, there are some signals about the other qualities, or so-called “soft skills” you’ll need. These include a strong sense of urgency, comfort with technology, confidence taking initiative, and openness to learning, among others.

To develop a workforce who will be able to leverage Industry 4.0 technology to drive your business forward, look to soft skills. In particular, well-validated personality tests can help you identify the most important personality characteristics for any given role. With personality data, you can make more informed talent management decisions.

For example, you can identify which leadership candidates have a strong drive to compete, high risk tolerance, or a strategic approach to problem-solving. Or perhaps you’d like to detect leaders who can pivot quickly to stay ahead of industry changes.

As an international authority in the science of personality and a provider of evidence-based solutions for talent acquisition and development, Hogan has helped numerous manufacturers adopt better talent management practices. The following case study provides one example.

Case Study: Automotive Manufacturer Improves Selection Accuracy by 44%

A global automotive component manufacturer partnered with Hogan via Persol to improve its leadership development process for senior managers. The automotive component manufacturer started with this population because senior manager candidates are responsible for leading and mentoring teams to achieve the company’s mission and goals.

Hogan’s data science team worked with the manufacturer to develop a scientifically valid development tool to improve the quality of the company’s senior manager candidates. To build the most accurate personality profile, Hogan’s data science team determined that the following behaviors and values had the most significant impact on job success:

  • Strengths – Composure, drive, social proactivity, and communication
  • Risks – Volatility, naiveté, and conformity
  • Values – Practicality, collaboration, and accomplishment

By comparing candidates with the Hogan profile, the manufacturer was able to identify the most critical characteristics for success. Hogan’s extensive research on the relationship between personality and job performance indicates the manufacturer will see a 44% improvement in overall accuracy by using the recommended Hogan profile — selecting 22% more good hires and avoiding 22% more bad hires.

In addition, our research demonstrated that senior manager candidates fitting the profile are 4.2 times more likely to perform well on the job than those not matching the profile.

Want to See More Success Stories?

At Hogan, we’ve partnered with manufacturing organizations on their talent management strategies for decades, so we have plenty of success stories that demonstrate how we’ve helped manufacturers achieve their talent goals.

We believe that investing in scientifically validated selection and development tools can help you thrive in this challenging talent market. Our personality assessments can help you address today’s most pressing talent management challenges, including leadership selection and development, employee retention and engagement, reskillable talent identification, and more.

Get your copy of our Manufacturing Industry Spotlight to learn more.


  1.     Propel PLM. (2021, August 25). The Manufacturing Skills Gap: What Is It?
  2.     Dollar, B. (2018, November 14). The Jobs Are Here, But Where Are the People? Deloitte.
  3.     Zickuhr, K., & Sanchez Cumming, C. (2022, February 4). January Jobs Report: U.S. Employment Growth Surpasses Expectations, but it is Essential to Boost Job Quality in Manufacturing. Washington Center for Equitable Growth.
  4.     Fowler, K. (2021, October 19). Five Reasons Labor Shortages Are Impacting Supply Chains. Forbes.
  5.     How Industry 4.0 Technologies Are Changing Manufacturing. (2022, May). IBM.
  6.     Wellener, P., & Hardin, K. (2022, May). 2022 Manufacturing Industry Outlook. Deloitte.
  7.     Statista. (2022, May). Number of Employees in the United States in April 2022, by Industry. Statista.