Over the past generation or so, there's been a noticeable shift in companies' willingness to bring in contingent labor. Early on, employers were only looking to a “temp” when they had a brief opening for a relatively menial office job that needed to be done. Few other sectors had any interest in hiring personnel except on a permanent, full-time basis. 

This business mindset is now in the midst of transformation. According to Area Development, there's been a complete reversal in who hires contingent workers and who doesn't. In 1990, 42% of the U.S. contingent workforce was made up of clerical workers, while only 28% were in manufacturing. Today, however, 47% of temps go into the manufacturing and industrial sectors. It's a new era. 

Becca Dernberger, vice president and general manager at Manpower, told Area Development that this is a natural function of “the changing economic and technological climate we live in.” In other words, temporary jobs in manufacturing are on the rise and will continue to do so moving forward. 

A Paradigm Shift in Labor

During the economic downturn of the last decade, the manufacturing sector began to decline and was forced to lay people off. Times are changing now, though. As companies in the industry begin to get back on track, “they're using manufacturing staffing agencies to retool quickly,” as Dernberger told Area Development. 

"Part of the increase in contingent manufacturing labor stems from changes in employer behavior that started during the economic recovery in the early part of the decade," she said. "As companies started to grow post-recession, they wanted to augment their workforce at the pace of demand." 

One obvious application for contingent staffing is to support a steady business growth strategy. As the business grows, executives often choose to add staff members slowly. It’s easy to make the case for using temporary personnel, and any higher cost per hour are offset without the constraints of a permanent commitment. In this simple case, temporary staffing empowers the business to test the waters and build demand incrementally. There are many others. 

A Wide Range Of Open Manfuacturing Positions

Where in the past the role of the temp was mostly relegated to office work, the beauty of the contingent workforce today is that it offers a very diverse pool of talent; from highly skilled CNC Machinists or Welders, to warehouse workers looking for higher wages or more flexible lifestyle.  There's high quality, high value labor available to fill manufacturing facilities and distribution centers on a short term basis. 

"We see strong demand for contingent jobs in both skilled and unskilled roles," Dernberger said. 

Demberger also noted that because manufacturing businesses today are doing more with sophisticated processes and advanced technology, “it sometimes requires a great deal of training to fit into even a contingent role.” But that's not a problem. Some employers and agencies even go so far as recruit nationally for temporary workers with the right skill sets and work ethic if it will translate to a higher level of productivity and value to the company. 

A Tool For Business Continuity Management

The rise of contingent work is great news for employees and businesses, who now have more tools to work with in terms of business continuity management. 

Temporary staffing can help your business address a variety of staffing challenges that lie ahead from lowering costs of labor to reducing risk and revenue losses, and even mounting an effective response to a natural disaster.