Posted: Jul 25, 2018
It’s no secret that the manufacturing industry is reeling as baby boomers retire and jobs are left unfilled. As manufacturing tries to attract Millennials and Generation Z, there’s been a national conversation on how to promote manufacturing careers in 2018 and beyond.
For example, a person working in a fast-food restaurant may make $10 to $15 per hour working on what amounts to a first or second-shift job in a plant. Working in manufacturing, that same person likely would start on 2nd or 3rd shift, which often pays $15 to $25 per hour for unskilled or semi-skilled labor. While these manufacturing positions may not be the ultimate destination for these workers, they are a way for them to get their foot in the door where numerous other opportunities will be available to them as they increase their skills. If they already have or are willing to learn, the mindset necessary for helping the business improve, they will do very well.
For example, in the interviewing process take the time to get a real insight into an applicant’s thinking. Ask “Are you willing to take additional training to upgrade skills? Do you take initiative to identify and solve problems? Are you a team player? As an hourly employee in a support role, do you have the interest and ambition to become a machine operator—a very responsible and important hourly job that may pay in a range of $25 to $50 per hour? Do you aspire to someday be a supervisor or a quality technician?” Manufacturing jobs are more available now than they’ve been in a long time. Our mission as leaders and recruiters is to attract these folks and encourage them to “go for it” then support them when they sign on.
Many millennials who aren’t interested in a four-year degree have grown up with modern technology, are comfortable working with it, and likely can be trained to do jobs such as programming of CNC machines, becoming an expert electronic technician, quality technician, tool and die maker, etc.
Promote expanded use of Junior Achievement programs that are offered in elementary, middle, and high schools. Attend every jobs fair in your area and tell your story. It’s all about marketing, isn’t it? What is your value proposition to attract new talent into manufacturing?
This is a long-term process to sustain training needs, but the plan needs to be done now with implementation to commence in the short term.
Plant managers, take the lead! Educate these important community leaders.
For example, they should be proudly taking credit for: the sea change in safety results over the last two decades; working to change factory cultures to be much more inclusive and collaborative with all employees (hourly folks no longer have to check their brains at the time clock and pick them up when they leave); marked improvements in customer service; increasing use of state-of-the-art technology; jobs that pay great wages and benefits, etc. The only company that immediately comes to mind for promoting manufacturing on major media is GE. What I’ve seen is targeted specifically to engineering graduates, and it’s fair to say that companies do a far better job in recruiting for salaried positions. I went through several Google screens trying to find other companies promoting manufacturing in a broader way and gave up.
Nearly everyone these days is on some kind of social media and checks it regularly. Has anyone ever seen on any form of social media (Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter) a “recruiting/selling” ad that advocates working in manufacturing? CEOs, senior marketing, and HR leaders of manufacturing companies need a plan and a broad-based strategy to be highly visible on select media so the world knows: “We have great employment opportunities at ACME Manufacturing, Inc.”
Most companies do a great job of marketing their companies to customers and shareholders but do very little, if any, marketing to prospective employees looking for opportunities. There should be a compelling story for both degreed and non-degreed people. Sell the positive changes like the present-day working conditions, culture and opportunity for those seeking a fulfilling career and providing a better life for their families. I see this as a huge opportunity but, as a group, we’ve been nearly invisible on this topic and that needs to change. Who in your company has the ball on this?
Read Larry’s full breakdown in IndustryWeek for more ideas on how to promote manufacturing careers. Together, we can all make a difference to help close the skills gap and fill jobs. Manufacturing is more enticing than ever. Learn more about careers at Dayton Rogers and what we can do for you.
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