Production Skills Gap | Burning Glass Technologies

Production Skills Gap

The Skills Gap in Production Roles


Report Cover: The Skills Gap in Production Roles

The Skills Gap in Production Roles

Each month prior to the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs report, Burning Glass will publish real-time data and analysis about the employment landscape in the United States. These are not just raw numbers. They are data culled from millions of online job listings, analyzed to identify potential trends and to provide context on employment and the economy.

In this first edition, we take a look back at production jobs in 2013 and provide analysis of the skills gap in this key sector. To read the full report, click here.

Report Highlights

In 2013, there were 791,849 job postings for U.S. manufacturing production-related roles. Employment in production jobs is 13 percent below the 2007 pre-recession level, though as the economy has improved, employment in production roles has recovered 4 percent from its 2010 low. Despite this drop in demand, employers commonly cite skilled production roles as hard to fill. Burning Glass analyzes its database of online job postings and quantifies the skills gap for these roles.

Employment Chart

Skilled production occupations were defined as those for which employers are most likely to request postsecondary training. Examples include:

  • CNC Programmers
  • Avionics Technicians
  • Civil Designers
  • Production Supervisors

Clear Evidence of a Skills Gap

This disparity between the available jobs and the trained workers to fill them is referred to as “the skills gap” and is the topic of debate between industry, academia and policy makers as to how to address it. Compared to all production roles, skilled production occupations have:

  • Weaker Supply: For each skilled production opening, employers are recruiting from a labor pool that is one-third the size of that for general production roles.
  • Longer Fill Times: Postings for skilled production roles are open 10 percent longer.
Lower Supply-to-Demand RatioSupply Demand Longer Posting DurationAverage Posting Duration

What Skills Are Employers Looking For?

By analyzing employer postings, Burning Glass is able to assess the particular skills that employers demand in the hard-to-fill production roles. The lists below indicate skills commonly requested by employers in skilled production jobs.


  • Scheduling
  • SAP
  • Inventory Management

Process Improvement

  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
  • Capability Maturity Model (CMM)

Advanced Manufacturing

  • Computer Aided Drafting/Design (CAD)
  • Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) Programmer
  • Schematic Diagrams

What this Means:

Matt Sigelman on the Production Skills Gap.

“These data nullify the argument that the skills gap does not exist,”says Burning Glass CEO Matt Sigelman.”We see clearly that employers are struggling to fill skilled production roles, and the cause is that they lack a sufficient supply of talent with the skills they need. Job seekers and, more importantly, the training programs that support them, can develop these skills to improve their labor market prospects and competitiveness for these roles.Training providers need to focus on the particular skills in-demand among employers and work with them to build a talent supply chainthat will close the skills gap.”

How Does the Magnitude of the Skills Gap Vary by State?

Burning Glass assessed the evidence of a skills gap for skilled production roles in the 17 largest states with above average concentrations of production jobs, and ranked the states based upon a combination of their employed supply-to-demand ratios and average posting durations for skilled production roles.

States with Greatest Evidence of a Skills Gap:
  1. Michigan
  2. Texas
  3. Louisiana
  4. Iowa
  5. Kansas
States with the Least Evidence of a Skills Gap:
  1. Indiana
  2. Tennessee
  3. Ohio
  4. Wisconsin
  5. South Carolina

A more detailed report about the Skills Gap may be found here.

Next Month: STEM

Burning Glass’s tools and data are playing a growing role in informing the global conversation about education and the workforce by providing researchers, policy makers, educators, and employers with detailed real-time awareness into skill gaps and labor market demand. Burning Glass’s job seeker applications power several government workforce systems and have been shown to have substantive impact on reemployment outcomes and labor market literacy. The next report to be released on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 will focus on STEM jobs. Custom market reports are available upon request.