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New IPC Study Sheds Light on Labor Shortage in North American Electronics Industry

Mar 05, 2015

A new study, published by IPC – Association Connecting Electronics Industries® finds evidence that a labor shortage exists for electronics manufacturers and that other business issues make the problem worse for some segments of the industry. Based on data from 107 U.S. and Canadian electronics manufacturers and extensive secondary research, IPC Study of the North American Labor Pool for Electronics Manufacturing assesses the causes of the shortage of qualified labor for electronics manufacturing, and offers solutions.

The study found that 72 percent of manufacturers believe there is a labor shortage and two-thirds had difficulty in recruiting production workers and engineers in the past two years. The data showed that PCB fabricators and EMS companies are disproportionately affected by the problem, due to resource constraints that put many of them at a disadvantage when competing with OEMs for talent. It also found that recruiting challenges are more severe in the Midwest and eastern region than in the south and west, and mid-size companies reported the biggest impact compared to large and very small companies.

Demand for talent in electronics manufacturing is growing faster than the supply, due in part to the aging of the workforce. The supply is also affected by workers’ perceptions and choices, however, and young workers are targeting high-growth industries to start their careers. The shrinkage of electronics manufacturing and loss of jobs in the region in recent decades has hurt the industry’s image, but this can be turned around, according to Sharon Starr, IPC’s director of market research. “Exciting things are happening in the industry technologically that should interest young people, who are keen users of technology,” she says. “IPC can help the industry tell its story.”

The 52-page report, IPC Study of the North American Labor Pool for Electronics Manufacturing, uncovers what is driving today’s recruitment challenges, including public perceptions of the industry, dynamics of supply and demand growth, job candidate expectations, and manufacturers’ constraints. The current gaps in the labor pool are examined by region and industry segment, as well as the issues impeding the recruitment of production workers and professionals, and the industry’s training needs.

The study reveals what recruitment strategies manufacturers are using and which ones they have found most effective. An analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the current environment provides insight into strategies to address the current recruitment and training challenges. Recommendations and resources that can help manufacturers overcome the obstacles, such as sources of training grants, are included in the report.The report is available for sale at www.ipc.org/laborpoolstudy2015. The cost is $450 for IPC members and $900 for nonmembers.


IPC (www.IPC.org) is a global industry association based in Bannockburn, Ill., dedicated to the competitive excellence and financial success of its 3,600 member companies which represent all facets of the electronics industry, including design, printed board manufacturing, electronics assembly and test. As a member-driven organization and leading source for industry standards, training, market research and public policy advocacy, IPC supports programs to meet the needs of an estimated $2 trillion global electronics industry. IPC maintains additional offices in Taos, N.M.; Washington, D.C.; Stockholm, Sweden; Moscow, Russia; Bangalore and New Delhi, India; Bangkok, Thailand; and Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Suzhou and Beijing, China.

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