AEM: policies to address workforce challenges could benefit the industry  

A leader with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says policies to address workforce and supply chain challenges could help the equipment manufacturing industry remain resilient.

Kip Eideberg, senior vice president of government and industry relations, says the industry is facing a labor shortage.  

“We simply cannot find enough workers to fill the open positions that we have,” he says. “Right now, we’re looking at somewhere between 75,000-80,000 open positions in our industry across the board. That’s not just the manufacturers, but it’s the suppliers as well.” 

He tells Brownfield a reliable pipeline of skilled workers would also help improve supply chain issues.

“Right now, particularly on the agriculture side, many if not most manufacturers are sold out for the year and they’re sold out into Q1 and Q2 of next year,” he says. “…demand is strong across the board, and we wish that we could take advantage of that strong demand. What’s holding us back is lack of skilled labor. I was in Iowa a few weeks ago and we met with CEOs of equipment manufacturers in Iowa and the story was the same whether you were in northwestern Iowa, southeastern Iowa, or right in the middle around Des Moines; you cannot find enough workers to fill open positions. So, workforce is a big challenge for our industry.”

Other policy priorities for the industry include infrastructure, rural America, trade and international, tax, and immigration.

“We continue to advocate for good trade policy, good tax policy, and good financial policy domestically,” he says. “I think everyone is concerned right now about the economy, the debt ceiling, and the trickle down effects they might have on the broader economy.”

The recent AEM Economic Impact Report highlighted the equipment manufacturing industry’s return to growth and increased output following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eideberg says there are many opportunities ahead for equipment manufacturers.

“We feel very good about where the industry is,” he says. “There are some challenges still and the road ahead is far from smooth, but we are in a good overall position as an industry. At this point it’s more about what more we could do if there were some policy solutions and fiscal solutions to some of the current problems. The bumps in the road could be smoothed out and we could be doing even better than we’re currently doing.”

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers is the North American-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers, with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide.

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