Over the course of the next ten years, more than 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be vacant in the United States, according to recent research by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. However, due to the lack of properly skilled employees and decreasing interest in manufacturing careers from the upcoming generation, it is expected that nearly two million of those jobs will go unfilled. This is no secret to companies in manufacturing across the country, who are already experiencing the heavy impact of this employment crisis first-hand.
Advancements in automation and smart technologies are making it easier than ever for manufacturers to increase their efficiency and productivity levels. In effort to keep up with increasing market demands, manufacturing companies are investing in bigger buildings and higher-tech equipment, however, they are struggling to find and retain enough skilled employees to support this type of growth.
So, how can you begin to close this employment gap within your own company and find skilled workers to fill your open positions? The answer lies in the youth. According to U.S.News, there are more than 75 million professionals on the verge of retirement. At the same time, Millennials have just surpassed Generation X as the largest generation in the American workforce.
Thomas Allott, manager of Stiles University, a manufacturing education and training program developed by Stiles Machinery Inc., believes that in order for companies to attract the next generation of employees, they must first change the stigma attached to careers in manufacturing.
"Many young people think of manufacturing in terms of the low-paying, assembly-line jobs of their parents and grandparent’s generation. To them, manufacturing is not a sustainable 21st-century career; and with debilitating student loans, young professionals are looking for high paying, sustainable jobs that can provide stability and proven advancement opportunities,” says Allott.
Currently, the manufacturing industry is experiencing a huge shift from traditional production methods to increased levels of automation and digital innovation. With this shift, comes a need for higher-skilled workers to engineer and operate technically-advanced equipment. This means higher paying, technical jobs with unlimited opportunities for growth. However, if you expect Millennials to come knocking on your door for these opportunities, you may be in for a long wait.
To help you in your efforts to engage with the next generation of potential employees, we’ve compiled a list of five tips to find and retain quality manufacturing talent:
1. Paid Internships
By opening your doors to paid internships, you are not only exposing the next generation to what a modern career in manufacturing looks like, you’re also decreasing your onboarding costs as well as the risks associated with hiring the wrong employee for the job. By creating opportunities for internships, you can determine whether the candidate is the right fit for the job before offering a full-time position.
2. Facility Tours
Partner with local high schools, community colleges and universities by setting up tours of your production facilities. Offering this first-hand experience of your facilities can plant a seed of interest in young people who may have never considered manufacturing as a potential career. You may also want to consider joining efforts with established movements such as Manufacturing Day – a day devoted to manufacturing companies around the country opening their doors to local schools to offer educational and informational experiences in modern day manufacturing.
3. Social Media
Millennials want to know the “why” behind a brand or company before they offer their loyalty to it. A recent Industry Week article names social media as one of the most effective ways to reduce high employee turnover. The article goes on to note that one of the biggest contributors to employee turnover is a candidate’s lack of understanding regarding the nature of the job they’ve accepted. Using social channels like YouTube can be extremely effective in providing insights into a career with your company. Some companies have found success by creating short interviews with current employees regarding what they love about their jobs. LinkedIn and Facebook also serve as great resources to share your company culture and list current job openings.
4. Training Opportunities
Offer training opportunities in your facilities to equip potential employees as well as current employees with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their roles. If you don’t have the capacity to offer on-site education and training, consider partnering with local or national associations within the industry. A few examples of associations who are currently offering advanced training opportunities include Woodwork Career Alliance, Pittsburg State University, MiLL National Training Center, 180 Skills and Stiles University.
5. The Military
According to the Pew Research Center, 92% of enlisted military personnel have completed high school or some college. When these individuals leave the military, they are looking for careers in which they can apply their unique skill sets and unmatched work ethic. In fact, due to the large number of former military currently seeking careers in manufacturing, Manufacturing Institute recently released this unique guide for manufacturing companies with tips for hiring and supporting veterans in their workforce.
While there is no quick fix to the employment gap that manufacturing companies are currently facing, there is hope. The hope is in the youth, and if you want to find and retain quality employees who are committed to the future success of your company, you must find creative ways to show them why a career in manufacturing is as relevant and exciting today as it was yesterday.