There are currently more than 520,000 open manufacturing jobs in the United States according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and a recent report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute projects that 2.4 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled over the next decade. As baby boomers continue to retire, the industry will continue to struggle with a shortage of new workers to fill these job openings.
To attract younger generations, companies will need to continue to adjust their recruiting strategies and messages. In this article, we’ll refer to millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) collectively as “younger generations.”
Research suggests that the efforts of manufacturing companies in recent years to promote the field in their communities at high schools, technical colleges, annual MFG Days, and otherwise are paying off. A study by Leading2Lean (L2L), headquartered in Sparks, Nev., in the summer of 2019 found that 32% of Gen Z has had manufacturing suggested to them as a career option, compared with only 18% of millennials. In 2020, millennials ranged between 23 and 39 years in age, and Gen Z’s ages ranged between seven and 22 years. The L2L report also found that Gen Z is more likely to consider working in the manufacturing sector and is less likely to view it as an industry in decline than other cohorts.
While this is good news, community outreach efforts must continue. On a macro level, all manufacturers should continue to address the preconceived ideas the public and their respective regional communities may have about jobs in manufacturing by providing information programs and education to high schools, technical schools, STEM programs, and guidance counselors. They should also continue participating in annual events like MFG Day, hosting plant tours, and offering paid apprenticeship positions after school and during the summer.
Marketing strategies On the marketing front, there are several communication strategies and best practices as well as recruiting practices that will help make your company more attractive to younger generations. Understanding their perceptions and expectations will help you appeal to this demographic.
Showcase innovation In terms of overall branding and communication, showcase your company’s innovation and focus on technology wherever possible. Digital natives expect technology and automation in the workplace, and they equate it with progress and opportunity. A lack of technology suggests inefficiency and limited growth opportunities.
Remember that your website is likely the first impression you will make on potential employees, so start there.
Showcase diversity Americans are increasingly diverse in myriad ways, and this diversity needs to be welcomed at your company. Your website and career page should include images of the diverse talent you’re trying to attract. This applies to the recruiters you send out into the field too. Do not use standard stock images of people who are the same ethnicity, gender, or age, and, instead, consider using images of your actual employees. This will also make you come across as more authentic to jobseekers.
Showcase growth opportunities Showcase and discuss personal and professional growth opportunities, training, and career advancement at your company, including ways that employees work with management and executives.
Recruiting on the internet To maximize your recruitment efforts, make sure your job openings are listed on one or more of the leading online job sites and recruiting tools: LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, or Monster Jobs. Glassdoor also lets job seekers read comments and reviews about your company from your current and past employees.
Job seekers typically encounter dozens to hundreds of job postings every day. Try to make your company stand out in some way to get more attention from job applicants. Communicate unique characteristics and benefits of your company, your company culture, and the position. Work with your marketing department to create a compelling narrative around your company or eye-catching job ads. You might consider developing profiles or a video of a diverse selection of employees, including their backgrounds, personal interests, and what brought them to your region or to your company. If your company has a pizza lunch every Friday, mention it. If you know you’re looking for a “young, tech-savvy, millennial talent” to fill a position, mention this!
Leverage social media Think of social media as the billboards your community drives past every day. Use it to brand your company and job opportunities. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to communicate and promote your company’s job openings.
In summary, the messages that appealed to past generations might not be enough to get younger generations through the door today. By adjusting your recruitment strategy to align with what younger generations value – social and environmental responsibility, flexibility, work-life balance, assistance with student loans, and more – they will be more open to considering your company for their next position.