Manufacturing has been the backbone of America since the industrial revolution. It continues to play a vital role in the U.S. economy but has been facing troubles due to an increasing skills gap. On August 6th, the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) held a workshop & panel to specifically address these manufacturing talent shortage concerns. Titled “Develop Your Workforce for Growth”, this event touched on the pipeline challenges, technological advancements, and cultural stigmas that are playing into the standstill in new talent entering the manufacturing industry. While many of the issues covered focused on revamping internal talent development processes, some major red flags that popped up throughout the discussions were recruitment, branding, and promotion.
Manufacturers are wondering, ‘How do we reach the younger generation? And when we do reach them, how do we attract them to manufacturing?’
For example, the talent pipeline challenges cited at the event were as follows:
- Lowering number of high school grads
- Retiring workers
- Loss of embedded knowledge
- Frequent moving of workers & applicants
- Lack of STEM skills
- Negative image of manufacturing
- Lack of familiarity with manufacturing in younger demographics
Three of these seven listed challenges [see bolded bullets] deal specifically with overall image and recruitment issues. Furthermore, these concerns can be answered through a robust industrial marketing plan that targets new talent instead of new revenue. Below you’ll find OEM marketing ideas that will answer the three recruitment related manufacturing talent shortage challenges.
Manufacturing Talent Shortage Issue 1: Frequent Moving of Workers & Applicants
Regardless of industry, it stands true that we live in a more mobile world than ever before. Not only do people stay at jobs for shorter lengths, they also commonly relocate several times throughout their life. There are certainly downsides to this, such as higher employee turnover and difficulty reaching into local talent pools. On the positive side, this also means that there are more potential employees around the country that are willing to relocate to your site for a fitting and lucrative job opportunity.
Statistic: Recruiting employees with fewer resources was the #2 concern of the manufacturers at the August 6th MAGNET workforce event when asked about attracting and retaining talent.
Tip: Use paid advertising and paid social tactics to extend job openings across the nation with greater visibility on a low budget. With clear ad content regarding job expectations as well as the benefits of working with your manufacturing company, you may find that your ideal employee is across the country instead of down the street.
Manufacturing Talent Shortage Issue 2: Negative Image of Manufacturing
Those in the manufacturing industry know about the rapid technological advances that have been rocking the traditional industrial methods. Robotics & automation, cloud computing & storage, additive manufacturing & 3D printing—the list could go on. Yet, the term ‘manufacturing’ still conjures images of toilsome factory work and outdated machinery.
Dealing with the negative reputation of manufacturing requires an overhaul rebranding of the industry. That doesn’t mean that your individual manufacturing company can’t make a difference, though, by updating its own branding to align with the modern image of manufacturing.
Statistic: 53% of manufacturers at the MAGNET workforce event felt that they did not know their employer brand. Accordingly, having an attractive & engaging organizational culture was the #4 concern of this group when asked about attracting and retaining talent.
Tip: Showcase your company’s advanced technology and modern facilities on your manufacturing website. You’ll contribute to bettering the image of the industry while also demonstrating the advantages of your specific manufacturing company.
Manufacturing Talent Shortage Issue 3: Lack of Familiarity with Manufacturing in Younger Demographics
Not only does the manufacturing industry have branding work to do—it also has promotion work to do. Most viable post-high school careers are taught about in career development classes and represented at career fairs. Some manufacturing organizations may have this sort of presence, but it’s certainly not common.
Although manufacturing doesn’t always get this kind of direct attention as a lucrative career path for young adults, there are a host of other avenues available to reach this same demographic. If there is anywhere that teens and young adults frequent more than school, it is social media. According to the Pew Research Center, 89% of 18-29 year olds use social networking sites.
Statistic: When manufacturers at the MAGNET workforce event were asked how they recruit new talent, only 7% reported using social media or their company website.
Tip: Create a social media strategy—or revamp your current strategy—to include content focused on educating young adults on the positive qualities of the manufacturing industry. Then, link these posts back to career development pages on your website. With a very minimal budget you can promote these posts to the exact demographic you’re hoping to reach.
It’s essential that manufacturing continue to thrive for the American economy to continue to thrive. It’s equally essential that manufacturing careers be recognized as both valid and profitable paths for young adults. Luckily this can be easily done in a digital world if you have the right tactics built into your industrial marketing plan.
Interested in more OEM marketing trends? Learn about The MFG Standard, a Fathom publication dedicated to bringing manufacturers actionable advice about forming their industrial marketing plans.