If you are struggling to find skilled employees to staff your manufacturing business, you are certainly not alone. According to research from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute the manufacturing industry is looking at a shortage of 2.4 million workers in the next decade. This dire prediction has HR managers scrambling to make changes in their recruiting efforts.
Demand for Candidates with STEM
The increase in use of automation, robotics, AI, and advanced manufacturing equipment has made it necessary to hire workers with more specialized skills. Unlike the previous century where a highschool diploma was enough to get employed in manufacturing, many businesses now find it beneficial to have a higher percentage of employees from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) courses in college. Competition for these candidates is fierce and hiring managers need to expand their efforts beyond the traditional sourcing channels.
One effective method gaining in popularity is setting up booths at college career fairs. Manufacturers get the opportunity to demonstrate and educate students on their processes and products. Many recruiters are able to offer internships on the spot for interested candidates. This type of interaction helps raise awareness of manufacturers who might not have been considered as an employment option for these students.
Rebranding the Industry
The common perception of factory work is a dirty warehouse filled with dirty machines and workers putting in long hours for little pay. Millennials are looking for the opposite -- jobs with purpose, flexibility, and decent pay. Recruiters are working hard to convey the more modern image of manufacturing, with robotics, AI, and other high tech equipment creating more flexible workplaces.
Khris Bhattan, president of RTG Solutions Group, which consults for the manufacturing sector, says, “Manufacturers have become very aware of this negative stigma and have made significant investments in the manufacturing workplace to reverse it. Investments in the workplace include not just the physical space but also the tools, equipment and safety protocols that are part of the workspace.”
Lack of Experienced Senior Level Employees
Senior level employees, such as general plant managers, VPs of purchasing or operations, engineers, and other key-role employees tend to stay with a company for decades or even their entire career. For other workers, this means less opportunity to rise up through the ranks, which has resulting in higher turnover.
Now that many of these senior level employees are approaching retirement, it is the challenge of HR managers to fill these positions when the internal pool of candidates lacks experience. Recruiters are increasingly looking for candidates with management experience in other industries to fill these senior level positions.
Many businesses in the manufacturing sector are changing the culture of their organization by empowering employees to make decisions and solve problems, rather than just doing a repetitive task. This sort of empowerment creates a sense of value and appreciation in the employee, which leads to greater productivity and higher retention rates. Recruiters are increasingly able to cite company culture as a benefit when attractive prospective candidates.
Small Towns and Mid-sized Cities
Over the past few decades manufacturing has been moving from traditional big city locations like Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and New York to smaller towns and mid-sized cities. Recruiters are now faced with the challenge of staffing these manufacturers from a much smaller available talent pool. Sourcing this talent takes more creativity than ever before.
Changes in the manufacturing industry have resulted in many changes in recruiting practices. Challenges exist in finding skilled workers with the ability to effectively do the work associated with a higher tech manufacturing sector, where robotics and automation have created a greater demand for educated workers. Manufacturers need to work with skilled recruiters who are able to creatively face these challenges.