Whether it’s recruiting, training or retaining skilled workers, talent management remains a huge priority and challenge for manufacturers across the board.
In a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey of manufacturing executives, 60 percent said that creating a skilled workforce is a top priority.
Moreover, a Deloitte study estimated that as many as 2.4 million factory jobs could remain unfilled through 2028 because of a tightening labor market and manufacturing talent shortage. And while the lasting impact of COVID-19 has yet to be seen, the pandemic caused an unprecedented disruption in manufacturing and compounded the labor issues.
So given this current industry landscape, what are some of the biggest talent management challenges manufacturers face?
A shrinking pool of workers
Baby Boomers continue to have a huge impact on the American economy. The manufacturing sector is no different. Deloitte estimates that 2.6 million workers will retire from the manufacturing workforce over the next decade, leaving a huge gap to fill.
A growing competition for new talent
As the economy expands, competition among manufacturers for reliable, skilled workers is intensifying, making the task of recruiting even harder.
Training and “up-skilling” the existing workforce
As manufacturers focus on keeping up with technology, their workers will need to be trained and retrained to keep up with the demands of automation and robotics as well as upgrades in traditional equipment. Gone are the days when a worker could focus on a single task in the assembly process.
Overcoming negative stereotypes of manufacturing careers
Let’s face it, most young people these days don’t list “factory worker” as one of their career ambitions. Manufacturing plants have historically been tainted with a reputation of being a loud, dangerous, and generally unpleasant work environment. Manufacturing HR teams have their work cut out for them.
Paycor specializes in talent management for the manufacturing industry. Here are four practical ways HR teams can help their companies meet these challenges.
- Creative Recruiting
In order to thrive in the age of automation and beyond, manufacturers are going to need to recruit people with skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The trouble is, these same people are in high demand by many other industries as well. The competition is tough and unfortunately, manufacturing is not always top-of-mind for young people when starting their careers.
In order to get a head start on other companies, manufacturers should begin actively recruiting—even at high schools. Connecting with students early can help build a positive image of your company as a desirable place to work. It’s also important to educate the parents that manufacturing can make a promising career.
For instance, manufacturing leaders can invite local high school students to work part-time to give them an opportunity to see what the job is about without racking up college debt. And if parents understood their child could leave high school and get into a trade making as much money as they would have their first year out of college—without the college bills—they could be more prone to choose manufacturing as a career.
- Adapting to Millennials
With so many retiring Baby Boomers, Millennials now comprise nearly half of the workforce2, and manufacturers must adapt accordingly. Most Millennials want a better work/life balance and are more willing to change jobs in order to achieve their personal and career goals.
Manufacturers should focus on creating a work environment that is both challenging and engaging, and that offers ample opportunity for advancement. This means being more flexible with career-path mobility, training and scheduling, as well as offering competitive benefits packages.
As the manufacturing sector grows more technical, companies need to develop more sophisticated and robust training programs. The broader and more holistic an understanding of the manufacturing processes your workforce has, the more versatile, adaptive and productive they will be.
With this in mind, HR teams will need to be more proactive in helping management identify the workers who have the aptitude and desire to grow their skillsets. Paycor’s Learning Management Solution can help facilitate and track your training programs.
- Rethinking HR
In most manufacturing companies, the HR employees are generalists, responsible for all the administrative tasks from recruiting to compensation. However, in order to meet the growing talent management needs, your HR team may need to restructure the way they work to better find and retain the best people.
For example, consider splitting your traditional HR team into separate roles: HR and Talent. Each team has separate goals and leadership. This new structure allows the Talent team to focus on recruiting and retaining workers, while the HR team handles the more traditional, day-to-day responsibilities.
Given the increasing importance of talent management in manufacturing, perhaps your HR team would benefit from a re-evaluation of its current organizational structure. Paycor’s mission is to continue finding new and innovative ways to help HR teams better achieve the goals of their businesses. As manufacturers adapt and evolve to meet the challenges and opportunities in the marketplace, their HR teams will play a key role in recruiting and developing the skilled workforces they will need to succeed.
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