If you’re a manufacturer, chances are you’ve run into trouble finding qualified workers to fill the highly skilled positions that you need on your shop floor. They call it the “skills gap,” the gap between the skills candidates have and the skills that they actually need, and depending on who you ask, it might be a big problem. Some people have called what we’re now facing in America “a skills gap crisis,” while others feel that the problem isn’t as big as it’s been made out.

Chances are, you don’t care much whether it’s a big problem or not, you just want to know what to do about it. Well, you’re not alone. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) says that 80% of U.S. manufacturers are experiencing a shortage of qualified applicants for skilled positions. Manufacturers all over the country have been asking themselves, one-another, and the government what to do about the skills gap, and they’ve come up with a variety of answers.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. It’s a popular, bipartisan act that previously passed the Senate with a massive 95-3 vote. It replaces the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and would help close the skills gap by focusing on training in the kinds of portable, certified skills that are in the highest demand among manufacturers and other industries nationwide.

But the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is just one measure that’s being tried to close the skills gap. Many manufacturers and other business owners are taking the matter into their own hands, and trying more innovative—and sometimes more old-fashioned—approaches. Two big techniques that many businesses are trying are apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training. While a decade ago the Department of Labor counted 488,927 active registered apprentices in the United States, that figure was down to only 287,750 by last year. On-the-job training was also on a decline, with only 21% of workers reporting having received any formal on-site training in the last five years. For many manufacturers, a return to apprenticeship programs and on-site training is the answer to the skills gap problem.

Others have changed their hiring practices and application process. Many hiring managers have found that the application process in its current form inadvertently weeded out qualified candidates for unintended reasons, and some have taken to innovative and sometimes radical redesigns of their applications and hiring practices.

Regardless of how you go about closing the skills gap, it’s a fact that manufacturers rely on a skilled workforce in order to stay competitive in an ever-changing marketplace. If you want to stay on top you need the sharpest employees, and you need your tools to be just as sharp. That’s where Mutschler Edge Technologies (MET) comes in. We may not be able to help you find the right people for the job, but we can make sure that when you do, they’ve got the tools to help keep them—and your business—on the cutting edge.

At MET, we know how proper edge preparation keeps cutting tools working reliably and efficiently, and that’s why our edge preparation solutions are custom-tailored to the needs of our clients. Contact MET for an edge-prep solution today.