The manufacturing sector is in a state of flux. As technological advancement takes hold and the fourth industrial revolution brings a cascade of new opportunities to innovate; organisations must secure the skills necessary to deploy new solutions and meet customer demands. In addition, as baby boomers edge towards retirement and evolution of technology creates new roles, manufacturers will have to plan for a potential shortage of 2.4 million workers in the next decade, and look for ways around this.
Faced with an ever-changing skills market, the need to build a talent pipeline should be tackled in the early stages of childhood. Children are innovative and creative and love making things. Early education around the abundant opportunities available in manufacturing should be communicated through career fairs, guest speakers in schools and experimentation in lessons.
Of course, it’s not all down to the government and the curriculum. Manufacturing has long suffered from an image problem; a general lack of understanding or appreciation for the role manufacturers play in society. Technological evolution often goes unnoticed to those outside the field. And it’s that technological transformation which is actually radicalising the market – opening opportunities for highly skilled employees with tall salaries to match. This truly is an attractive field to set your sights on.
Manufacturing companies should be making use of the abundant social media platforms available to them to get their messaging across, placing them as an employer of choice. General Electric is a fantastic example of an industrial company using their Instagram platform effectively. Not only are they breaking the stereotype that manufacturing can be dull – by posting innovative and exciting images and videos to their 396,000 followers – but they are engaging with people, replying and interacting. It shows development and indicates a ‘reaching out’ process to the newer talent that dominates social media accounts.
Hosting open days is just one example of how firms can allow students to gain a valuable insight into how manufacturing organisations operate on a day-to-day basis. There is also an indisputable need for firms spanning the manufacturing sectors to encourage the next generation into the profession through engaging and enticing work experience programmes.
Businesses active in this millennium are looked upon as brands and deciding if you believe in a company’s philosophy is a strong factor when looking for a workplace. Manufacturing companies are increasingly placing an onus on their brand in order to remain competitive in the war for talent. Using marketing agencies, gaining coverage in key manufacturing publications and making people aware of your perks are just some of the ways you can increase brand recognition. In times of high employment, candidates have the power of choice and are more likely to go for a company that is clear on its cultures and beliefs.
Take, for example, Rolls Royce. They offer great perks, but not only that, they tailor the perks package for the individual. You have the option of picking from some impressive employee benefits, such as a cycle to work scheme, an employee car leasing scheme and discounts on an extensive range of products and services. The bespoke nature of these benefits shows a level of care and consideration that would appeal to the next generation who thrive on the ability to construct their ideal career.
Careers fairs are a must, but forward-thinking manufacturers will take it one step further and offer more internships and apprenticeships to make it as easy as possible for entry level talent to embark on career pathways in the industry. Contrary to popular belief, trade careers are not diminishing – they are evolving. However, the growth of the sector depends upon contribution from workers of all demographics. Now, the spotlight is fixed firmly on manufacturing organisations and the people working for them who must work hard to attract new talent.
With that in mind, take a look at your company principles. Are they up-to-date and relevant for the type of employees you are looking to recruit? Is your training and development programme on point and fully beneficial? In 2019, retention strategies are just as important as attraction strategies. Nurture your talent pipeline and build your team into a solid army of mentors. Then, when young people start work, you will have a strong support system, prepared to ready your team for the exciting new challenge they have chosen.
Whilst people live in fear that AI and radical change will diminish jobs, it won’t. The innovation, creativity and contribution needed to ensure a successful manufacturing company, is distinctively human, and the youth of today are an intrinsic component.