There has also been a dramatic increase in productivity that lets manufacturers produce more with fewer workers. Just in time manufacturing techniques link day to day manufacturing schedules more precisely to customer demand, thus squeezing waste out of the system and reducing inventory needs. As manufacturers integrate Internet based customer ordering with just in time manufacturing systems, scheduling becomes even more precise. More manufacturers are partnering with their suppliers to create integrated supply chains. For example, when a customer orders a Dell computer, the same Internet message that informs Dellâ€™s assembly line to produce the order also signals the video screen and keyboard manufacturers to prepare for UPS to pick up their parts at a particular time. The net effect is that manufacturers have been squeezing slack and inefficiencies out of the entire production system, allowing companies to produce more products with fewer employees.
Several trends account for Work force Demographics. With global competition, more manufacturing jobs are shifting to low wage countries. For example, Levi Strauss, one of the last major clothing manufacturers in the United States, closed the last of its American plants in 2003.
In general, the jobs that remain â€“ and especially the manufacturing jobs â€“ require more education and more skills. For example, the five occupations projected to grow fastest in a first decade of the 2000s depend on computers — computer engineers, computer support specialists, computer systems analysts, database administrators, and desktop publishing specialists Furthermore, automation and just-in-time manufacturing system mean that even manufacturing jobs require more reading, mathematics, and communication skills than before.
Skilled machinist Chad Toulouse illustrates the modern blue collar worker. After an 18-week training course, this former college student now works as a team leader in a plant where about 40% of the machines are automated. In older plants, machinists would manually control machines that cut chunks of metal into things like engine parts. Today, Chad and his team spend much of their time typing commands into computerized machines that create precision parts for products including water pumps. Like other modern machinists, he earns about $45,000 per year (including overtime).
Also reflecting the desires to keep costs down, there has been a shift to using nontraditional workers. Nontraditional workers include those hold multiple jobs, or who are â€œcontingentâ€ or part-time workers or people working in alternative work arrangements such as a mother-daughter team sharing one flight attendant job at Jet Blue airlines. Today, almost 10% of
At the same time, workforce demographics are changing. Most notably, the workforce is becoming more diverse as women, minority group members, and older workers enter the workforce. Between 1992 and 2005, workers classified as Asian and others will jump by just over 81%. Hispanics will represent 11% of the civilian labor force in 2005, up from 8% in 1992. About two-thirds of all single mothers (separated, divorced, widowed, or never married) are in the labor force today, as are almost 45% of mothers with children under three years old.
With the aging of its workers, America is facing a demographic shift as significant as the massive entry of women into the workforce that began the 1960s. From the 1970s through the 1990s, many employers improved their competitive positions by instituting policies and benefits (such as more flexible work hours) that attracted more women to the workforce. Employers will now have to take similar steps to fill the openings left by retiring employees â€“ probably by rehiring retirees.
American workers â€“ 13 million people â€“ fit this nontraditional workforce category. Of these, about eight million are independent contractors who work on specific projects and move on once the projects are done.
For managers, this means a growing emphasis on knowledge workers and human capital. Human capital refers to the knowledge, education, training, skills, and expertise of a firmâ€™s workers. Today, â€˜the center of gravity in employment is moving fast from manual and clerical workers to knowledge workers, who resist the command and control model that business took from the military 100 years ago. In this environment, managers need new world class HR management systems and skills to select, train, and motivate these employees and to get them to work more like committed partners.