Maintaining the momentum of manufacturing’s recovery in 2023

Following the vaccine rollout, manufacturing saw a surge in consumer demand. If the industry is going to capitalize on this growth, it needs to overcome some long-term issues. From workforce shortages to fast-changing standards, this article explores some of the key challenges for the manufacturing sector and what L&D teams can do to stay ahead.

Data overview

After a year of recovery for manufacturing, we wanted to find out what was really happening on the production floor. So, we talked to the teams producing manufacturing learning experiences, and the employees who complete this training. Speaking to over 25 L&D professionals and more than 800 learners has revealed some key challenges and opportunities for the manufacturing sector. 

Find out more about this research in our Training Trends Report 2022.

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Biggest challenges facing the manufacturing industry

Manufacturers are looking to maintain the momentum of last year’s recovery. If they’re going to succeed, there are three key challenges to overcome.

  1. Talent recruitment and retention

Attracting and retaining talent has long been a challenge for the manufacturing industry. But with a highly skilled generation entering retirement, it has a renewed focus. 

By 2025 Linchpin SEO estimates that there will be 2 million to 3.5 million unoccupied manufacturing positions. So, it’s no surprise to see Deloitte reporting that 38% of executives are prioritizing attracting new workers in 2022. This is followed closely by retaining their workforce.

  1. Emerging technology skill gaps

Technology continues to transform the manufacturing landscape. While people may be leaving manufacturing, firms are finding themselves in need of fewer employees.

Deloitte discovered that 45% of executives surveyed expected increases in operational efficiency through connecting machines and automating processes. In order to do this successfully, they need workers with a different set of skills. Attracting new talent will help, but they also need to reskill employees with the latest tech know-how.

Hear from Lori Niles-Hofmann on how to respond to emerging skills gaps in this podcast episode.

  1. Evolving standards and regulations

Ever-changing industry standards mean manufacturing firms need to make sure their people and systems can keep up. From cyber security to sustainability, compliance with a number of Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) factors involves a complex and evolving network of reporting regulations, ratings, and disclosure frameworks. This requires retooling, employee training, and oversight across the organization.

Deloitte reports that 95% of manufacturing executives are expecting to invest more to achieve ESG compliance in 2022. 

What does that mean for manufacturing learning teams?

L&D continues to be critical to responding to changing standards and new skill gaps in the manufacturing industry. Demand for effective digital learning is high. It needs to be easily updated so, when regulations inevitably change or new technology appears, organizations stay compliant and competitive. 

The pressure is on to move quickly and get it right or risk the recent manufacturing recovery. But compliance and technical training involves lots of stakeholders and SMEs, which can slow down learning production. It’s no wonder over 80% of the L&D leaders we surveyed were struggling to:

  • Respond at speed 
  • Manage stakeholders 
  • Maintain quality

And producing digital learning is only the first hurdle. 40% of leaders highlighted a lack of investment or budget. So, it’s vital L&D teams demonstrate their value – whether that’s improved compliance or better skill development. 

What is the modern learner in the manufacturing industry looking for?

Just under 80% of manufacturing firms deliver most of their training online. So, what do their employees think about all this digital learning?

Want to find out what learners across all sectors want from digital learning? Check out our secrets of corporate success infographic.

What can manufacturing learning teams do to get ahead?

Your first step should always be to fully understand the learning requirement. Once you’ve found out what your employees want and need, it’s time to turn your insights into effective learning experiences. We’ve identified three digital learning trends that will help you deliver business impact.

  1. Create impact with personalized blended learning

30% of businesses are exploring new hybrid ways learning to keep employees engaged and target specific skill gaps. A modern approach to blended learning combines face-to-face and online learning alternatives, like Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), webinars and elearning. It enables you to create personalized self-guided learning journeys that are relevant to different departments and roles. 

Want to find out more? Explore our new blended learning strategies.

  1. Make wellbeing a priority

The increased anxiety of the last few years is really beginning to hit employees. Our survey highlighted that employee mental health would be a major focus in 2022. But it’s not just about giving people the tools to better support their own wellbeing. It’s about putting people at the center of learning and development. That enables them to develop new skills, progress in their careers and stay in the manufacturing industry.

  1. Harness the power of video

Manufacturing employees are calling out for more engaging learning experiences. 41% of learning leaders are responding with a new focus on video. Whether it’s sharing knowledge or telling stories, user-generated videos are a quick and easy way to get content out there. They give voice to your employees’ expertise and encourage peer learning.

Explore more elearning trends in the full corporate elearning trends article. 


Maintaining the momentum of manufacturing’s post-pandemic recovery requires some long-term challenges to be tackled. Whether it’s emerging skill gaps or changing industry standards, you can stay ahead by taking a people-centered approach to learning. 

  • Find out what your employees really want and need
  • Drive impact and compliance with personalized blended learning journeys
  • Focus on employee wellbeing to attract and retain manufacturing talent
  • Provide the video learning employees want with user-generated content

By putting your people at the center of L&D, you can produce effective digital learning that will help you overcome the industry’s key challenges. 

If you want to find out more about the latest trends, read our full Training Trends Report 2022.

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