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82 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JANUARY 2020 Hiring and Retaining Top Employees The economy is booming, and this presents challenges for manufacturing organizations. Your top-performing employees are prime tar- gets for competitors that are not only will- ing to offer a higher wage but can also offer a more attractive work environment and career growth path. Before I dive into a strategic approach to hire top talent and retain your best employees, we need to understand the dynamics of manufac- turing and labor statistics. The unemployment rate in the manufacturing industry is at its low- est in the last 15 years (Figure 1). This pres- ents a challenge for companies to find qual- ified employees to fill job openings. Highly skilled employees with a strong work history are in high demand. The Big Challenge for the Next Decade As we look forward, economists expect a slow- down in the next few years, but the demand for skilled employees will continue to be strong. One of the expected challenges is the skill gap being created. According to one study [2] , the gap between available jobs and the number of skilled workers is growing. The study estimates that there may be up to 2.4 million jobs unfilled in the next decade in the United States, with the possibility that certain skilled and managerial positions will become almost three times harder to fill than they are now. In preparation for this challenge, leading companies are taking mitiga- tion steps to retain their top employees and cre- ating a company culture that is attractive to draw prospective employees into the organization. Hire the Right Talent, Not the Best Talent The natural inclination is to always hire the best available talent for a given role. This Operational Excellence by Alfred Macha, AMT PARTNERS Figure 1: Unemployment rate [1] .

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