To Hire Talent and Take on Bigger Clients, You Need Better Technology

Legacy Systems Could Be Stunting Your Company’s Growth

A Shortage of Skills

For years, as far back as the 1990s, there has been a buzz in the manufacturing industry about finding skilled workers. In recent years this issue has come into the limelight as legacy systems and old operating systems are being traded in for new hardware and software (at least, in the surviving and thriving firms). While the problem of finding skilled workers isn’t new, the severity of the shortage is.

According to a study by the Manufacturing Institute, “over the next decade, nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled and the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled.”

But with nearly three decades of warning, we’re left asking: how did the manufacturing industry wind up in this predicament?

It’s not like we’re short on talent, the National Center for Education Statistics reported the number of graduates with a computer and information sciences degree increased 46% between 2008-2009 and 2013-2014.

Some research will suggests that the long employment and now mass retirement of baby boomers caused a training-pipeline disconnect. Other research identifies economic expansion as a cause, wherein the increase of goods and services resulted in contractions in the manufacturing employment market.

Although both baby boomer retirement and economic expansion contributed to insufficient skilled workers, they’re not the only factors. Millennials also have a negative image of the manufacturing industry and some of these impressions are justifiable. They carry a preconceived notion of dirty factories, dangerous work conditions, dismal career paths, and terribly outdated technology. While these assumptions are often false, millennials are correct in their belief that much of the manufacturing industry has lagged in deployment of many modern business technologies.

According to Baltimore Business Journal, 66% of companies are still running Windows XP, and 60% are still using Windows Server 2003. Microsoft no longer supports either of these systems, presenting serious security risks.

Hiring Talent

But why should outdated operating systems and legacy systems matter if the old stuff still works? Shouldn’t these smartphone-toting yuppies toughen up? The answer is complicated.

Most people would unanimously agree that these big-data-loving juveniles should look up from their Facebook feeds when crossing the street. However, their frustration with old technology is legitimate. According to a 2016 Workforce Study conducted by Penn Schoen Berlan, 80% of millennials say that a firm’s technology influences their job decision. Moreover, a staggering 42% would leave a company that utilizes substandard technology. Granted, any job is better than no job, but many millennials wonder, why should I spend all my time and effort learning and optimizing a system that is already outdated? Moreover, if millennials accept such a job and their company goes belly-up, they will be left without valuable, up-to-date computer and technology skills, making it difficult to find employment again.

It’s Not Just Rebellious Youth, its Your Customers Too

A study by Microsoft concluded that more than 90% of consumers would consider taking their business elsewhere rather than work with a company that uses outdated technology. Furthermore, over 50% of consumers agree that small businesses that use modern technology are more competitive in the marketplace.

In today’s market, consumers are worried about cyber security, hyper-efficiency, and remote access to data and information. With an old system in place, it will be more difficult to meet their standards, and ultimately, they’ll find a manufacturer that does.

It’s Not All Bad! We Truly Appreciate Manufacturers

According to research by, close to a million jobs have been created since 2010. What’s more, a lot of these jobs are highly skilled and well-paid. To spread awareness of modern manufacturing practices, many companies are joining the community effort Manufacturing Day. With campaigns like this, augmented by business forums like IT for Industry, regional manufacturers can learn how to achieve a competitive edge in the global supply chain, both by investing in the most competitive technologies and the competitive talent eager to use those technologies.

IT for Industry

On April 13th, 8:00 AM-12:00 PM, at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, featured speakers from Bliley Technologies, Data Inventions, and the Ben Franklin Technology Partners are giving brief, informative presentations (not pitches!) on a variety of manufacturing technologies and best practices for regional manufacturers. In addition, over 20 technology solution providers and support organizations will be present for this targeted tradeshow.

Attendance is Free for Regional Industries!