The skills gap. Manufacturers continue to struggle with the growing problem. Businesses can’t find enough skilled individuals to fill essential roles throughout their organization. Baby boomers, the majority demographic that makes up the manufacturing industry, continue to retire and there is no one there to step up and take on their responsibilities. Furthermore, new digital technology and advanced robotic systems require a new set of skills that many millennials posses, but so few realize that there’s an opportunity to utilize these skills within the manufacturing industry.
Here are some ways manufacturers can better represent themselves to the public to attract and retain the 21st century workforce.
The Public Misconception
Manufacturing has been left with a negative stigma that stemmed from the first industrial revolution. The conditions of the facilities when manufacturing was in its infancy were harsh, dark, dirty and dangerous. This stigma stuck and modern manufacturers have had such a hard time explaining to the public what today’s manufacturing industry is really all about.
Conditions in a modern manufacturing facility have improved so much from the days of Fords first assembly line and manufacturers need to do everything they can to express this transformation. There are nationwide events like Manufacturing Day that do their part to show the public just how far the industry has come. As a manufacturer, participating in these kinds of events and inviting parents, students and anyone interested in a manufacturing career to walk through a modern facility to see a modern facility in action will leave a lasting impression on them when deciding on a career or encouraging their children to consider a manufacturing profession.
Most young adults that are just now entering the workforce aren’t even aware that the manufacturing industry is still a thriving industry. They’ve been surrounded by technology their entire lives and companies like Google, Apple or Facebook have their attention. Many of them don’t understand that their technological prowess can be put to good use in an advanced manufacturing setting. Companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and even NASA are actively looking for young professionals that are comfortable with technology to join their manufacturing teams.
These kind of careers are perfect for the millennials that have a grasp on the latest technology but still want to work hands-on and watch the product of their effort go on to accomplish great things. There is something incredibly satisfying about putting the time into a project and watching it grow from beginning to end.
The manufacturing industry also offers an important point of interest the millennial generation looks for when choosing a career. There is great opportunity for professional growth. More manufacturers are offering career maps to show how an employee can move up within an organization. This concept will not only help when looking to bring new employees into the shop, it will also greatly improve how long a business can retain employees. People don’t want to be stuck in dead-end jobs and want to be able to learn new skills and put those new talents to work. Offering these kind of career maps will have a profound impact on a manufacturers recruiting process.
New Focus on Workplace Culture
The manufacturing industry has radically improved their workplace culture over the past few years. Flexible shift options and leniency in regard to work-life balance is a prime focus for much of the manufacturing industry. It isn’t just because it helps attract millennials, there is a direct correlation between employee morale and efficacy/productivity. Expressing this during the recruiting process will greatly improve your chances of finding that skilled millennial manufacturer that has proved to be so elusive.
Manufacturers must do their part to show the public how far the industry has come. Dispelling the misconceptions, telling the public about new job opportunities, how they can move up throughout an organization and a focus on workplace culture will all be essential to reverse the ever worsening skills gap.