The Tech Box

The Tech Box – September 2021

Acquiring Workers Amid Record-High Job Openings

There are currently a record number of manufacturing job openings going unfilled, which was reported in Fibre Box Association’s (FBA) August Economic Trends and Outlook Report created by Dick Storat of Richard Storat & Associates. The U.S. manufacturing sector continues to expand, but labor shortages are one of the key constraints to a full recovery.

This is not a new challenge for the corrugated packaging industry. For years we’ve discussed the two-fold issue that exists when trying to recruit talent for plant floor positions – the lack of interest and the lack of skilled workers. The manufacturing skills gap is not simply a buzzword - it's the reality that many manufacturers are facing right now. There are more open job positions than there are workers ready to fill them.


2021 study

conducted by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute (MI) predicts that 2.1 million manufacturing positions will go unfulfilled by 2030, and 77% of manufacturers say they will have ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers in 2021 and beyond.

So, what can we do about it? One thing we can do is continue to showcase the corrugated industry. Our industry has a great story to tell from sustainability efforts to innovation.

Manufacturing kept the world moving forward while fighting a pandemic, and boxes played a large role in that. A

survey released on July 28 by Parsable

found 56% of the Gen Z respondents said their views have changed toward the field with 77% saying they viewed the manufacturing industry as more important. We need to concentrate our efforts to make it clear that our jobs can offer upward movement and earning potential, along with being personally rewarding.

One of the ways FBA does this is by promoting national Manufacturing (MFG) Day. MFG Day addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors. It is easy to participate in MFG Day which will be held this year on October 1, 2021. You can hold a career fair or workshop with local students, conduct a plant tour, or host an open house for visitors. All you have to do to show your support is register your event on the MFG Day website



The other thing we can do is help bridge the skills gap:

  • SkillsUSA

    is a partnership of students, teachers and industry, working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. They serve middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations. There are local SkillsUSA chapters all over the country - find one near one of your facilities and reach out. You could speak to the chapter about your job, department or our industry, host a tour at your facility or provide internship opportunities - any or all the above.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) Initiative practices are used across 37 U.S. states, D.C., and Canada to help employers build scalable, sustainable pipelines of talent. Companies can use this approach to build strategic alignment between classroom and career that better supports students in their transition to the workforce. Find more information and case studies on TPM



The solutions for acquiring skilled workers may not be easy but they are achievable. Let’s work together on this to ensure our industry has the skilled workers necessary to thrive. The International Corrugated Packaging Foundation (ICPF) and FBA can help you. Let me know if you want some support to get started.

Also, be sure to follow FBA on our social media channels (








, and


). Our October focus is manufacturing and we’ll be sharing engaging articles and more information on careers in manufacturing.


Mary Alice

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Mary Alice Drain is the Director of Technical Services at Fibre Box Association (FBA). If you have technical questions about the corrugated industry, you can reach her direct at