The manufacturing industry is facing a recognised skills shortage and the prospect of an exit from Europe’s single market means that concerns over future talent retention are more pressing than ever – even in the age of automation, robotics and big data within the industry. So how can forward-thinking manufacturers attract bright young talent into their business for the longer term?
Offer tech-led opportunities
Millennials are naturally adept with technology, having grown up with it. Many manufacturing jobs have already been replaced with machine learning and robotics and these systems require advanced skillsets to be at the front of a rapidly-evolving new age of efficiency and technology. Millennials see tech as being core to their lives and an integral extension of it, so tech-led roles will naturally be of interest. Those same young workers can also help with associated tech fields, such as social media communications development, for internal communication and external engagement. The knowledge, experience and creativity of younger workers in this field can provide manufacturers with a competitive edge.
Education and training investment
Manufacturing businesses are facing a smaller pool of skilled workers. This situation is made worse by the fact that many companies have failed to invest in training and education for staff in recent years. Forward-thinking businesses will offer graduate schemes with structured development, training and qualification opportunities to develop future leaders. These programmes will typically last for 2-3 years and will focus on developing the essential skillsets for modern manufacturing, from machinists and programmers, through to engineers and support function managers. By becoming an industry that proactive and heavily invests in the education, training and development of staff for future promotion purposes, the industry could rapidly become very attractive to younger workers.
Today’s millennials want that essential work-life balance, and the reality is that many manufacturing industries have the capability to offer this, as well as the chance to work off-site for greater flexibility and engagement. By offering these kinds of perks, manufacturing roles can be viewed on a similar platform to those within software and IT companies – with the chance to explore different ways of working and the chance to achieve balance.
Goal and value alignment
Younger employees are keen to feel that they are making a difference and to see how their effort fits into the bigger corporate or organisational picture. The more millennials can be encouraged to input into business process improvement and innovation the better, as it will demonstrate how their work makes that all-important difference to others.
A long-term career
Manufacturing was once a stable and hands-on career. Today, the industry has been disrupted by technology, but this has opened up various new fields and the opportunity to use additional skillsets. For example, as well as engineers, manufacturers need sales, marketing, HR, communications and import/export managers to run their businesses. This means that millennials can be presented with an array of career paths within any business, with the knowledge that they can move along an exciting, fluid career ladder which offers plenty of opportunity for progression and development.
Think differently when attracting younger workers, talk to your existing millennial staff and find out what drives them, and tailor your recruitment efforts accordingly to secure your future talent.