manufacturing and logistics 2019 trends.

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Every dollar spent in manufacturing adds another $1.89 to the overall economy — the highest rate of any economic sector.

Increased digitalization throughout the manufacturing and logistics sectors has increased efficiency and output across the board, with a majority of industries experiencing consistent growth and showing no signs of slowing. As operations become more lean and profitability increases, the need for skilled workers and managers alike is rising to meet demand.

Spurred by a booming tech industry, manufacturing and logistics workers will find the most new opportunities within cities in close proximity to tech hubs throughout the South and West. New e-commerce sites in particular are expected to increase demand for warehouse and distribution workers in metropolitan markets like Denver, Atlanta and Oakland. And smaller towns across the country, too, will see a resurgence in manufacturing jobs, as improved logistics have made it easier and more cost-effective to set up operations in areas once deemed too remote to manage effectively. 

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Growth in e-commerce will create demand for an additional 452,000 warehouse and distribution workers in 2018-2019.

Some of the most in-demand manufacturing and logistics roles for 2019 include:


Assemblers play a vital role in assuring the creation of a quality finished product, and they will be needed as manufacturing continues to grow across industries. Candidates for this role must be highly detail-oriented, able to follow complex schematics and blueprints and be comfortable using a variety of tools. With a greater emphasis being placed on machine-assisted assembly, workers in this field must be able to work effectively with robots, computers and other motion-control devices to successfully accomplish tasks.

forklift operators

The BLS predicts employment opportunities for forklift operators to increase by six percent between 2016 and 2026. Propelled by the growth of e-commerce platforms and the related warehouses that stock their goods, forklift operators can expect to be in consistent demand throughout 2019. Responsible for safely operating machinery to transport goods, forklift operators must be highly attentive and able to control heavy machinery safely throughout the workplace. Candidates for this position will need the proper licensing and, ideally, will have a demonstrated record of safe vehicle operation.


The BLS is predicting continued growth in employment opportunities for packagers between 2016 and 2026. Packagers are tasked with identifying and removing items from warehouse shelves to accurately fill orders or unload delivery items from trucks. They can also be responsible for bundling, weighing and labeling materials to either prepare for shipping or enter into storage. Candidates for these positions must be highly dexterous and organized and be physically capable of both working on their feet and carrying heavy loads. Top candidates will have even more advanced skills to support the use of order-fulfillment technologies, like pick-to-light equipment, which can improve order speed and accuracy.

production workers

Production workers, responsible for the assembly, fabrication and quality of manufactured goods will continue to be in demand throughout 2019. Competent production workers must be able to operate equipment effectively and be able to measure, assemble and monitor all related processes. Candidates for this position must be highly detail-oriented in order to test products and monitor quality and be able to work alongside machines and other digital tools to achieve a flawless end product.

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Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap.

warehouse laborers

Much like forklift operators, employment opportunities for warehouse laborers are expected to grow as more and more warehouses increase headcount to meet rising demand from e-commerce. Warehouse laborers are responsible for a variety of functions that keep operations up and running, like processing incoming stock, filling orders and shipping goods. Employers should look to hire highly organized candidates with exceptional time management skills and the capacity to withstand the physical demands of the job.

keys to attracting manufacturing and logistics talent in 2019

As manufacturing and logistics processes become more and more tech-driven, employers will need to target candidates who possess a high degree of digital prowess to go along with their mastery of more traditional trade skill sets.

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58% of workers who participated in Randstad's Workplace 2025 study said that their employers used the latest digital tools and platforms but didn't offer them enough training to use

However, finding the right candidates with the right blend of skills can be a challenge in today’s tight talent market. That’s why upskilling existing employees to help fill vacancies in areas with major talent shortages is predicted to become more prevalent in 2019. Recent Randstad research revealed that 82 percent of employee respondents said lifelong learning was important to them, yet nearly 40 percent said their employers didn’t offer enough upskilling initiatives — that’s a major area of opportunity for employers looking to get an edge in the year ahead.

With the hiring market now more competitive than ever, and top talent on the market for as little as 10 days, employers must either act fast or upskill from within if they want to secure and retain the talent they’ll need to remain productive as innovations continue to disrupt the space.

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