Emily Newton is a manufacturing journalist who regularly covers the industry trends. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. Subscribe to read more from Emily.
As older and more experienced professionals in manufacturing prepare to retire, it’s important to find suitable replacements. The only reliable way to do that is to train existing personnel. Passing the torch is a critical process.
Unfortunately, there’s a talent shortage that continues to widen. According to a study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, 89% of manufacturing executives agree there’s a growing shortage. It will lead to over 2.4 million unfilled positions between 2019 and 2028. This is creating quite the challenge for manufacturers that want to tap into some of the new talent out there.
It also means organizations will need to work a little harder to entice potential candidates to take on a manufacturing career. What can be done, and how should manufacturers stand out from the rest of the field?
Here are four tips for boosting hiring initiatives in the manufacturing career field.
1. Offer the Right Incentives
You can’t talk about hiring or recruiting candidates without touching on employee benefits, even briefly. There’s no reason to delve into the more obvious options, as most manufacturers already offer quality health insurance, time off, and pay benefits. But to stand out from the competition, something special is in order.
Some examples include free food through an on-site cafeteria or restaurant, paternity leave and daycare support, fitness opportunities or an on-site gym, transportation stipends, and minor expenses or equipment allowances. To come up with some unique options, you’ll need to think outside the box. That might call for a dynamic benefits package that evolves over time.
2. Be Honest
There are a lot of misconceptions about what a manufacturing career is really like. Are robots replacing people? Do all roles require backbreaking work? Is there danger at every turn? Exaggerations or not, these perceptions can influence people’s decisions about breaking into the field. While it’s not your job to quell every rumor or misconception about manufacturing, clever and honest marketing can change some minds.
Explore the many roles available in the industry, from professionals working with advanced technology to those maintaining equipment in a factory. Reveal the salary ranges for the most common roles and don’t be afraid to explore benefits, either. Talk about the dangerous roles, too, or the ones working alongside cobots, and what that means for the future. There are many opportunities that don’t require heavy lifting, but a lot of people don’t know that.
Market some of the most important roles you need filled, just as you would with a new product. Just be honest about them. For instance, second-shift roles may entail working awkward hours or having a limited support structure. But there are benefits to working these shifts too, like increased pay, minimal traffic during commutes, better flexibility with child care, and so on.
The shift can be less than ideal for some, but it may actually be a better option for others, and being honest about the pros and cons can help them make a more informed decision about their careers.
3. Introduce Stepping Stones
Something happening across many industries, especially with new graduates entering the job market, is that companies want extremely experienced professionals, yet want to pay them entry-level salaries. This creates two problems. Those with lots of experience and existing careers don’t want to take on new roles because they’re being paid far below what they’re worth. New candidates may want the roles, but can’t obtain them without the necessary experience, references, or credentials.
There’s a better way, and it involves creating stepping stone roles so new candidates can get their foot in the door. It doesn’t necessarily mean creating entirely new positions, but instead restructuring them so candidates receive the appropriate training, on-site experience, and real-world time to excel and become well-versed in the role.
They should also be directly linked to more seasoned opportunities, so candidates can move up once they’ve proven themselves. Think of them as a fast track to a more lucrative career or role. Employers benefit from this approach because they’re building more experienced employees in-house with industry experience, and the salaries or pay benefits can increase fairly for both parties.
People want growth opportunities or careers where they can continue to achieve new milestones. A Gallup report reveals that 59% of Millennials want opportunities to learn and grow in their careers and that they are important when applying for a job. Comparatively, 41% of Baby Boomers and 44% of Gen Xers say the same. It’s not out of line to predict that future generations will feel strongly about growth opportunities, as well.
4. Plan Ahead
While in school, in the military, and various other fields, you’re presented with training or education plans that go in various directions. You might start with general math or science courses and eventually specialize by moving into a more specific regimen.
The same can be done with new candidates in every role within manufacturing. By showing people where they can utilize their skill sets and experience, and what opportunities they have available, you naturally increase the possibility they’ll remain with the company. If someone becomes disenchanted with a certain role or they start feeling burned out, they can look for new, similar opportunities instead of leaving the company altogether.
For instance, many organizations are moving manufacturing processes back to the U.S. as part of recent efforts to ramp up domestic production. It means new roles will be created and open up at neighboring factories. Manufacturing companies can use this to their advantage by advertising and discussing the new roles that will open up, and by revealing lateral opportunities within the company.
This looks great from the outside, too, because you have plenty of opportunities to move up, down, or sideways if you enter the field and then find out you would prefer a different career.
Boosting the Demand for a Manufacturing Career
Because of stigmas and public perception, it might seem like it’s too challenging to get the right talent on board. But much more effort is needed to boost hiring initiatives and meet demands.
Having transparent discussions about available roles is an excellent start, including talking about some of the less common roles that people might not be aware of. And planning ahead for all candidates — whether new or experienced — is necessary to create fast-track opportunities for growth and feed their desire to reach professional milestones.