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Overcoming the New Manufacturing Hiring Challenges

Posted by  Jaclyn Menendez

Overcoming the New Manufacturing Hiring Challenges

I’ll be honest. As a Millennial, I don’t buy into most of the negative press we receive. According to the media, we’re lazy, unmotivated, and generally the least desirable option in any applicant pool. (If I believed every story that came out against my generation, though, I probably wouldn’t want to hire me either.) While there are some valid differences to expect from any generation, Millennials are mostly just adapting to the changing times and culture of their surroundings. We act differently from the generations before us, yes, but that’s because the world we’ve grown up in is also different.

This changing world is a key piece in understanding why the manufacturing industry is struggling to attract Millennial workers. By only looking at the generational age and skill gap, we’re only addressing one side of the problem. If you look beyond the personality differences in a Millennial worker, there are also some external and environmental factors that can explain this manufacturing hiring issue.

Here are two main reasons many Millennials choose not to pursue a manufacturing job:

  1. More competition exists (in terms of pay, anyway).

    Organizational growth over the years means that there is a McDonald’s in pretty much every town – and usually more than one. There’s no shortage of fast food job opportunities in most of America, and these jobs often pay a similar starting wage as most entry-level manufacturing positions. This has a two-fold effect on the younger workforce. In one way, Millennials who might be a fantastic fit for a manufacturing role may never even consider it because of the relative ease of applying and working in a different industry. Additionally, all these opportunities make it easier and more socially acceptable for Millennials to “job hop” – meaning they quit their job for relatively minor reasons, such as when the company next door offers a minor salary increase or an extra few days of vacation. With so many opportunities, younger applicants may feel little allegiance to any organization. Here are a few more tips for becoming an employer of choice to attract candidates to your plant.

  2. There is an outdated perspective of manufacturing jobs.

    I’d argue that this is the main reason why manufacturing is struggling with a talent gap. Let’s not fool ourselves – manufacturing jobs are hard work. They often come with long hours, rotating shifts, and physically demanding tasks. When the average young worker is deciding where to apply for a job, it can be difficult for a manufacturing plant to compete with the perks of a retail or food service role. However, the good news is that the heart of this issue is impression management – and that is entirely within your control. You can’t change the unemployment rate, and you can’t ask the local burger joint to lower its wages, but you can inform the younger population about why a job in manufacturing is a great opportunity. Because it is! Manufacturing has never been safer or more innovative, and opportunities for advancement are readily available for those who want to turn the job into a career.

    Related: Should Your Hiring Process Change for New Manufacturing Technology?

This type of aggressive recruiting might be foreign to a lot of traditional manufacturing organizations, as they can fondly recall the days when they had qualified applicants lining up outside for a chance to work at their plant. But if you want to stay competitive and draw in the best candidates, then it’s important to acknowledge the cultural shift of what young workers are looking for in their early careers. Don’t be afraid to upsell your organization’s value, make your presence known in local trade schools, and advertise the benefits that come with working for a stable and enduring organization. Millennials might not be all that different from their predecessors – they just need a little extra push in the right direction.

In our new eBook, a Guide to the Modern Manufacturing Employee, we help you preparing for the next generation entering the manufacturing workforce. We cover exactly how to attract new talent and close the skills gap, master the art of managing millennials, and we make some predictions for what to expect as Gen Z enters the working world. 

manufacturing employees

Tags:   millennials, manufacturing hiring, hiring

Jaclyn Menendez

Jaclyn is a Consultant based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Her areas of expertise include testing, assessments, and project management. Jaclyn has contributed to the development, validation, and implementation of assessments with various clients. She has managed, analyzed, and presented data analyses for content and criterion validation studies.

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