The manufacturing industry boomed throughout the 20th century, providing 19 million jobs during its peak in the 1970s. Today, however, manufacturing is experiencing a labor skills shortage, despite the prevalence of jobs in the field. With many baby boomers retiring, manufacturers are struggling to recruit millennials.
Manufacturing jobs appear not to have the same appeal to the latest generation to enter the workforce, forcing companies to find new ways to recruit talent.
Partnering with colleges
Millennials grew up in the digital age, so they’re comfortable withand interested in technology. To match millennials’ interests and promote manufacturing, colleges are starting to invest in manufacturing programs. The programs prepare students to work with manufacturing systems and develop the skills required of the field. Colleges across the country are participating by creating programs and degrees in manufacturing, dedicating millions towards training, offering certification from the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, and more.
Many millennials are deterred from a career in manufacturing because they perceive it as hands-on work that’s “grimy and dangerous.” However, leaders in the field are changing the public’s perception of manufacturing through education. Millennials are the most educated generation, with around 61% having attended college, so they’re looking for a job where they can apply their knowledge. Manufacturing offers career opportunities in a wide array of fields, including but not limited to biochemistry, aerospace, industrial engineering, and supply chain management.
Embracing technology as a communication tool
While technology is advancing manufacturing, hands-on work is still necessary, which is where the majority of millennials lack crucial experience. This absence of apprenticeship among the next generation of manufacturers is called the skills gap. However, the gap can be filled through the use of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The system allows all employees to access important supply chain management information anytime they need it on any electronic device. The ERP will help reduce training time and close the skills gap.
Through education, embracing technology, and redefining common notions of manufacturing, it’s possible to reverse the existing labor skills shortage. Like the rest of the world, the manufacturing field is evolving with new, advancing technologies and practices every day. At KION North America, we not only want to recruit the next generation of manufacturers, but also get them excited about the industry and its plethora of opportunities.
Interested in a career in manufacturing? See if working at KION North America might be right for you.