Manufacturing and construction sectors are hiring

Construction workers erect a building in downtown Miami, Florida, on June 14, 2023.

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At Ample’s manufacturing facilities in the Bay Area, employees work on the floor alongside robots, making battery packs and other parts for its EV battery swapping technology.

The job is clean, high-tech and skilled – all key recruitment points as the company looks to add to its ranks in the year to come. It hopes to double its 100-person manufacturing workforce by the end of the year.

Finding people who have the training to do those jobs may prove challenging.

Ample is working with brands from Daimler to Stellantis to Uber to swap out depleted EV batteries with fully charged ones and get electric cars back on the road quickly. It expects business will get a boost as the U.S. works toward its renewable energy goals.

Ample is facing a problem that has plagued many manufacturers for years: a skilled worker shortage. The company is seeking experienced workers to handle high-voltage machinery and complex robotics. It is also filling less-skilled positions.

“I think the important thing to … wrap our head around is that as the machines are getting more sophisticated, the manufacturing is getting more automated,” Ample CEO Khaled Hassounah told CNBC. “That means we’re expecting a lot more of the people who are managing the process, the people who are actually doing the manufacturing, and that naturally means that job becomes a lot more sophisticated.”

The company is taking matters into its own hands. Ample is running apprenticeship partnerships with the City College of San Francisco, Laney College and the College of San Mateo, launched as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Those training programs make the company confident it can meet its growth goals. He said some of the positions Ample is recruiting for do not require a college degree.

“We’re realizing that we can lean on community colleges to give that. You don’t have to go to college for two years just to get started. But there are classes you will take that will fundamentally increase your ability to the job really, really well, or do it safely even, or be able to be more effective,” Hassounah said.

Help wanted in modern manufacturing

As it ramps up hiring, Ample is bucking a slowdown in manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and around the globe. The sector added only 12,000 net jobs in 2023 for varying reasons, including automotive worker strikes last fall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U.S. added 23,000 jobs in manufacturing in January, but there were 601,000 open positions in the industry in December, a three-month high, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. This year is projected to be challenging for the sector, as the economic outlook is uncertain and companies struggle to staff adequately in a tighter job market, according to an industry outlook from consulting firm Deloitte.

Companies relying on blue collar workers in the trades face challenges in finding the right job candidates as Baby Boomers retire and younger people choose between college and the workforce. The Manufacturing Institute, an industry advocate, projected in 2021 that some 4 million jobs will need to be filled in the industry by 2030, and more than 2 million jobs could go unfilled in the sector by that time if workers don’t pursue modern manufacturing careers.

“The biggest misperception about manufacturing is what modern manufacturing really looks like, people just don’t know,” Carolyn Lee, president of the Manufacturing Institute, said. “They think that it’s antiquated or that you come in and you do one job. They don’t know that modern manufacturing today is all about technology.”

The group is broadening its recruitment efforts among workers of all demographics, backgrounds and ages, even starting to tell kids in middle schools about the opportunities in the industry.

Construction industry also faces shortage

Construction industry searches for workers as job openings stand at 439K

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