A full 84 percent of U.S. manufacturing companies agree that there is a worker shortage in the industry, and one recent global study estimated that there may be as many as six job openings for every logistics/supply chain worker. For employers, it’s more difficult than ever to find and keep reliable workers. But for workers, there may be a silver lining in all of this: new opportunities.

A Randstad study found an apparent disagreement between employees and employers about who exactly is responsible for developing, or “upskilling,” workers. The majority (82%) of U.S. workers believe continuous learning and development is important, but 40% say they do not have access to adequate training opportunities through their current employers. The same number also say they won’t pay to upskill themselves.

To summarize, most U.S. workers are aware that they must learn new skills, but nearly half are unwilling or unable to pay for that training themselves. Fortunately, some companies are rethinking the way they hire, train and develop workers by offering comprehensive in-house training to prepare new workers for the actual responsibilities of the job. But not all companies are going this route.

While it’s important for companies to invest in their workers, it’s equally important to invest in yourself and your future. Know where you want to go and figure out how to get there. The bottom line? Own your development. Don’t leave it in the hands of your employer.

take charge of your own growth

Randstad’s research also uncovered some interesting differences between generations in their expectations around upskilling.

  • 66 percent of U.S. employees between 18 and 34 years old say they need to strengthen their interpersonal skills. 
  • 70 percent of U.S. employees 45 years and older say that vocational skills are the most critical to their development. Only 28 percent of this age group say they need to improve their interpersonal skills.

It’s clear that upskilling needs may vary significantly with age, but no matter what your generation, here are some tips to get the skills you need:

do your research

Think about the types of jobs you want in one year and perhaps five years from today. Do some research online, or check out some of Randstad's job postings to see the specific qualifications, education and/or certifications that are required for the job.

Here are two examples of the types of skills you may need for job positions that are in demand and pay well:

forklift driver/operator

If you’re currently a picker/packer, you may already be certified to operate a motorized pallet jack. The next step is to get certified to operate a forklift. Training can usually be completed in as little as a day, followed by a written and practical exam in order to earn your certification. See forklift job openings.

machine operator/maintenance position

A year or more of on-the-job training is typically needed to become a skilled machine operator. Obtaining certification in this area is also a good strategy, since it shows an employer that you are capable of handling machines correctly and safely. Industry associations like the National Institute for Metalworking Skills and the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association offer certifications for various levels of operators and specialty areas. If the job involves computer-controlled machinery, you may need IT coursework or IT experience. See machine operator job openings.

It’s also good to know what’s going on in your town or city since it can impact the type of opportunities that might be available to you. A recent analysis of U.S. skills gaps across industries found that each state has its own unique worker shortages: for instance, Mississippi is short 1,000 or more advanced manufacturing workers, while Connecticut lacks key manufacturing and logistics personnel of all kind, from assemblers to manufacturing plant inspectors.

know where to go

Once you determine the skills you will need, you need to know where to go. You can learn through apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, technical colleges, on-the-job training or online.

Online, or e-learning, platforms are popping up everywhere, offering course options for nearly any skill you need to master. Because e-learning can be accessed on the go, you can progress at your own pace.

Here are a few resources available for workers in manufacturing, logistics or distribution industries who want to learn new skills:

  • Coursera partners with colleges and companies to offer a range of courses in manufacturing and logistics tailored to different specialties and skill levels. 
  • While you may not use LinkedIn on a day-to-day basis, the website’s LinkedIn Learning platform offers many courses and training on manufacturing and logistics topics. 
  • Lynda.com and Study.com are two popular websites that offer lessons on a wide variety of topics, including things like critical thinking, problem solving strategies and communication skills.

Most of these websites offer free trial periods for new users, so you can view lessons or courses for free for a few days or up to 30 days, depending on the website.

consider temp work — if you haven’t already

Partnering with a staffing agency is a smart and easy way to broaden or deepen your skill set while gaining valuable experience. According to a study by the American Staffing Society (ASA), 70 percent of temporary employees learn new skills, and 90 percent receive formal training in new skill areas.

Staffing agencies have relationships with employers and understand what they look for in workers, which means you don’t have to waste time clicking through cluttered job boards to find companies and roles that are the right fit for you. Maybe that’s why, in a Randstad survey, more than half of employers (51%) named staffing and recruiting firms as the most effective method of recruiting full-time and contract/temp workers.

Want to partner with a company that can prepare you with the skills you need to excel in the future? Check out all of the manufacturing and logistics opportunities available at Randstad today.