The Manufacturing Skills Gap: What Is It and How to Solve It?

By: Kylie Stanley, PR Technician 

Certainly, you are aware that we are in the midst of a manufacturing skills gap. Currently within the industry, manufacturing jobs remain empty and companies are unable to find workers who have the knowledge.

Not to mention, the pandemic also contributed to manufacturing jobs vanishing, and now the manufacturing field will be set back decades from the loss.

Propel developed an article and a resource tool to give some insight into the issue and how we can solve it.

The top four causes of the manufacturing gap include:

  • The false job perception
  • Lack of technology skill sets
  • Retiring baby boomers
  • Blue collar work avoidance

When it comes to manufacturing, many people have varying perceptions of what it entails. With these perceptions, people have an idea of what a manufacturing job looks like, but it’s not always accurate. Perceptions of the job can lead to young people not wanting to work in the manufacturing field.

After the perception comes the lack of technology skills. In today’s job market, companies are wanting workers who have several skills to bring to the table. In most cases, workers who are already in the manufacturing field can’t afford to learn additional skills.

A lot of baby boomers are starting to retire, which leads to jobs being empty, and it doesn’t help that younger people don’t want to work in blue collar jobs. Today, there is a stigma surrounding blue collar jobs and most people view it as people who are less educated, however, that’s far from the truth.

Check out the complete article from Propel to learn more about the manufacturing gap and tools to help.

Want to read more about the skills gap?

Matt Sonnhalter Offers Advice on Motivating Plumbers of Tomorrow in Southern PHC’s “Work Force Training.”
Skills Gap Awareness: Are We Making Progress?
Skills Gap: We’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place
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Manufacturers: Help Your Contractors Have Online Success

Manufacturers: Help Your Contractors Have Online Success

Many contractors have trouble navigating the digital scene. Here are tips that you can share with them to help them get noticed and sell more of your stuff!


Contractor’s Online Success Strategy: Get Listed on These Four Websites

For service-providing businesses, like contracting companies, greater online visibility can almost immediately bring more business. People’s primary way of finding somebody to do a job for them is by doing quick online research. In order to increase your chance of being found online, one of the simplest things you can do is get listed on websites for contractor services. Here are some websites worth considering.


With over 487,000 likes on Facebook, 26,200 followers on Instagram and more than 40,400 followers on Twitter, HomeAdvisor is one of the most popular websites for home service professionals.

HomeAdvisor’s web platform is extremely user-friendly. There is a very wide array of home improvement categories to choose from. Homeowners pick one, describe their needs and they get matched with up to four professionals. They can also read reviews of a particular contractor’s services.

HomeAdvisor offers contractors a robust, user-friendly system that lets you categorize and organize your leads, keep track of communications, and connect with prospects via phone or email with the touch of a button. Its mobile app lets you take these tools on the road to help you stay on top of your pipeline.


CraftJack is a very versatile web tool which allows you to do a lot more than just get listed in a search directory.

CraftJack works much like a social network but one geared exclusively towards contractors. Each contractor has a unique profile page, which they can use to promote their business. You can use it to showcase your finished work by posting photos and videos. Plus, the page will display your overall customer rating.

The CraftJack Pro app allows contractors to connect with homeowners, receive job alerts, schedule work, and request reviews right from their mobile device. CraftJack comes with a feature called Lead Manager, which can help you get more leads and referrals. You can even get discounts on the leads you win (e.g. by contacting a lead within 30 minutes of receiving the notification).


ACCA stands for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. But that doesn’t mean that only HVAC contractors can get listed. The website also works for contractors in refrigeration, plumbing, home and building performance, etc.

The way the website works is very simple. There is a search engine which homeowners, builders or building owners can use to find a contractor based on a variety of criteria, such as proximity, the kind of work they perform and the market segment in which they operate – commercial, residential or government. Site visitors can also find instructions on how to choose the most suitable contractor and see a list of questions they may want to ask the contractor before the work begins.

While you can get listed even if you are not a member, becoming one will grant you some extra benefits, such as opportunities to network during ACCA events or discounts on accreditation programs.

Angi’s List

Angi’s is for contractors who work in the areas of home and yard improvement, as well as auto and health services. The website claims to be used by more than 6 million US households.

There are two ways your business can get listed in Angi’s List’s search directory. The first one is if a customer that is really pleased with your services adds you there and recommends you as a professional. The second one is if you create your own free profile where you can list your areas of expertise, follow your ratings and respond to customer feedback.

If you receive a negative review, Angi’s List will give you the opportunity to talk to the reviewer and hopefully have the review removed. Bear in mind that you should have a valid license, because Angi’s List gives homeowners the option to check if you are licensed and bonded.

Some Additional Advice

These four websites will give your business great visibility and increase your chances of getting more business. But there are two other things you should also do. First, get listed on Google My Business, so your business can appear in the “sponsored ads” column of Google search results. Second, try to get listed in the .gov website of your state, as this will give you some extra credibility.

What steps are you taking to advertise your business and make sure you are visible online?


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Digital Transformation in Construction Businesses: Common Challenges and Solutions

by Lisa Michaels, guest columnist

The construction industry is slowly embracing digital transformation and using it in its design, project estimation, and safety perspectives.

However, some of the players are still hesitant about the new technological changes, making it hard to develop strategies aimed at streamlining the whole process.

Digital transformation is vital in construction. It helps to simplify complex processes such as resource traceability, communication, on-time project completion, productivity, and employee safety. These are all major hindrances to profitability and customer satisfaction.

Introducing digital solutions is a good move that allows construction experts to face and tackle the challenges faced during project management.

What Digital Transformation Means in Construction

Transforming the construction industry is not just about bringing in the latest technologies and incorporating them into the processes. It means addressing all old challenges using new technology.

This includes assessing the business and project needs, strategizing, and mapping the journey to ensure all future work is based on improved interrelated processes.

Digitization is a fundamental shift in business operations to ensure growth, efficiency, and profitability.

By adopting data-enabled field software and hardware and other vital digital tools, you’ll be able to sustain growth for your firm.

For instance, if you use drones or other UAVs for aerial photography, you’ll expedite the land survey using the best imaging techniques, data analytics, and topographic mapping software for informing the building strategy.

These tools can also help inspect sites for structural issues or safety hazards, helping to secure the sites. When used alongside 3D printing, progress reporting, and automated equipment tracking, these techniques can reduce the time, cost, and effort exerted in the entire construction process.

Common Challenges Related to Digital Transformation in Construction

Many new technologies are available to help construction businesses become more efficient and productive. While you may be enthusiastic and ready to embrace change, you also have to ensure that all stakeholders are on board as well. (more…)

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Throughout COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, Professional Tradesmen are Essential as Ever

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

Over the past few weeks, the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has presented an unprecedented set of challenges to not only our country’s workforce, but nearly all facets of our daily lives. While millions of Americans are being advised to work remotely or self-quarantine, our professional tradesmen are still reporting for work each day to keep the lights on and the water running. While this pandemic has brought on stress and uncertainty for many, Sonnhalter wanted to shine a light on some of the ways that those working in the trades continue to persevere, with some even finding new opportunities to succeed during this crisis.

Toilet Woes Still Require Plumbing Pros

With the well-documented toilet paper shortages across the country, people have resorted to using toilet paper alternatives that can wreak havoc on your plumbing, from napkins to shredded t-shirts. While those at home see these incidents as misfortunes, the recent increase of flushing improper items has provided an unexpected increase in business for some plumbers, like Michael Williams of Just Drains LLC in Philadelphia. “This is going to turn out fantastically for the drain cleaning industry,” he asserts. “People are flushing lots of things down the drain that should not go there – wipes, tissues, paper towels.”

Utility Company Workers are Redefining “Work from Home”

With hospitals filling up, people filing to the supermarkets to stock up and many telecommuting from their homes, it is unthinkable how much worse the crisis would be without power or natural gas. But in order to maintain operations, utility companies in New York and Florida have taken a new approach to both keep utilities running and abide social distancing guidelines by sequestering employees in offices, power stations and control rooms. According to the article, employees for these utility companies are trading off week-long shifts living in RVs and trailers at the company’s facilities in order to maintain power and natural gas services to thousands of customers.

Architecture Firm Uses 3D Printers to Make PPE Face Shields for Healthcare Workers

Some of the biggest heroes in our country’s response to this crisis have been the healthcare workers on the frontlines, and it has been encouraging to see companies using their resources and technology to help provide essential safety equipment. For example, HMC Architects is using 3D printers to manufacture PPE face shields and making them available to hospitals and clinics in its communities. The face shields are produced remotely by HMC employees, who are able to produce about 35 face shields per day from their homes.

National Association of Home Builders Provides Key Tips for Jobsite Safety

As construction jobs move forward, there is significant need for information that employers and workers can use to help reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) published guidance for construction employers, employees, contractors and companies conducting work on construction job sites on a number of topics such as coronavirus exposure prevention, preparedness and response. These documents describe, “how to prevent worker exposure to coronavirus, protective measures to be taken on the jobsite, personal protective equipment and work practice controls to be used, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and OSHA guidance on what to do if a worker becomes sick, including recordkeeping requirements.”

HVAC Technicians Implement “Contact-Free” Protocol to Keep Employees and Customers Safe

For necessary HVAC service jobs, some companies are offering “contact-free” protocol to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Technicians for these companies will call before heading to the job site, as well as calling when they arrive at the door. Technicians are also advised to maintain a six-foot distance from the customer at all times, wear masks and protective gloves and even offer video chat consultation if extra precautions are necessary.

We are living in a time where it feels like the situation is changing by the day, but one thing that remains constant is the courage and fortitude of the professional tradesmen and their ability to find new ways to providing all of their essential services. Know of any other innovative ways professional tradesmen are getting the job done during the pandemic? Email us at


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Will Tradesmen Be Safe From the Rise of Automation?

by Relena Jane, guest columnist

Article exclusively written for Tradesmen Insights

The rise of machinery and automation has been a constant thorn in the side of engineers, machine operatives and even farmers for many years.

As far back as the 1700s workers were revolting against the onset of technology. English textile workers rallied against the development and implementation of new machinery. They were known as the Luddites, a term that became synonymous with people who opposed technological advances.

It might have taken a couple of centuries, but increased understanding of technology is leading to more automation and AI involvement in our working processes than ever before. Slowly, but surely, machines have taken over from human beings. Think about your supermarket experience and the self-service checkout, or booking cinema tickets using your computer, collecting them from a machine on arrival.

Source: Pexels

Nowadays, algorithms are being used to mark essays in certain parts of the world, something that seemed impossible a decade or two ago. People are being used less and less in all forms of business, customer service and engineering. Will our dependable tradesmen, the plumbers and joiners of this world, be safe from the rise of automation?

To answer we have to understand how quickly technology is advancing. Manufacturing is one industry that has been hugely affected. Operatives have become scarcer on production lines, even when dealing with intricate assembly and manufacture of parts such as computer chips. Soon enough, AI will start disrupting this industry for the better, making processes much more efficient and quicker. The complexity of circuit board parts to create new machinery will be no more, and will lead to completely eradicating the need for human intervention. Thus, some areas will always need reactive operatives, but in far fewer numbers than before. (more…)

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Honoring the Trades, Building the Future

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman, Sonnhalter

It seems especially appropriate to address the subject of “skills gap” today, the third Friday in September, which is also “National Tradesmen Day.” National Tradesmen Day is a day where we honor the men and women dedicated to maintaining the complex infrastructure of our roads, cities, water systems and power grids. The skills and knowledge of those in the trades–electricians, plumbers, masons, mechanics, carpenters and everyone in between–ensure the jobs get done and businesses, homes and entire nations keep running.

While these professionals work day in and out to maintain their skills unique to their trade, the grim reality is that every day qualified workers retire, and the demand for skilled workers grows. In fact, as the country grows, the skilled trades are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the job market today. Their skills and jobs are so valuable, in fact, that training is available in nearly every sector of the skilled trade job market.

The problem is there are fewer and fewer students pursuing an education in the trades. Instead, they have been led to believe that it’s necessary to attend a four-year college in order to get a high-paying, satisfying job. It isn’t. There are other paths to a good career.

Build Your Future, an organization that aims to be the catalyst for recruiting the next generation of craft professionals, elaborates on the advantages of a career in the skilled trades in this guest post.

By 2023, there will be 1.5 million construction jobs that need to be filled. This shortage could be detrimental to the infrastructure and construction projects in America.

As the skills gap worsens, those with a lot of knowledge and experience in the crafts will be highly sought out with high-paying opportunities. Following the idea of supply and demand, this shortage has led to stable, high-paying careers for construction professionals.

With so much opportunity in the skilled crafts arena, it makes sense to explore the many options—and become part of the much-needed team of professionals that keep our nation running smoothly with their hands, their skills, their tools and their training.

Want to read more on the subject? Check out this post:

“Using the Gender Gap to Close the Skills Gap”

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