How Can Today’s Manufacturers Find Skilled Workers?

About 10 million manufacturing jobs worldwide remain unfilled, because of the skills gap.

Attracting and retaining skilled workers is a top priority for U.S. manufacturers. According to a survey of U.S. manufacturing executives from the automotive, consumer goods, industrial parts, and electronics and high-tech industries, nearly two-thirds ranked finding skilled trades people as their number one or number two priority. Right behind that, almost half of the survey respondents ranked manufacturing supervisors as their number one or number two most significant need. 

The most difficult jobs for manufacturers to fill are those that require skills that impact on operations performance, such as machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors and technicians. According to a Manufacturing Leaderships Council report, more than 80 percent of manufacturing companies reported hiring challenges. How can today’s manufacturers find skilled workers?

Time to recruit.

Many manufacturing companies rely on outdated methods when finding the right talent. To attract qualified workers, manufacturers need to develop a customized recruiting approach that can include leveraging online recruitment websites and conducting online business forums.

We are in an era where technology is a key focus for manufacturing operations, and it is also asserting its influence over recruiting and hiring top talent. To have an active hiring process, posting positions on online recruitment sites and traditional job boards is not enough. In 2012, a survey stated that 93 percent of employers use the professional social network LinkedIn when recruiting job candidates and 89 percent of those companies made a hire through the site.

Conducting online forums is a non-traditional way to attract candidates. For example, high-tech companies seeking engineers have held forums to find candidates. The forums addressed topics relevant to the industry and the company examined replies and discussions to find the top talent.

Back to school.

Manufacturing education is at a turning point, because the manufacturing industry’s future depends on training a new generation. Workers will be required to know how to run a computer as well as a piece of production machinery. Operating an advanced industrial machines found in today’s modern factory requires a basic understanding of computer code, electric wiring, physics, chemistry, metallurgy and pneumatics. To build this type of worker, manufacturers are beginning to collaborate with educators to reduce the current skills gap.

Manufacturers and educators are already working-together to provide accredited courses that articulate manufacturing standards and technology. Queensborough Community College in New York City developed an engineering technology program that is a hybrid of basic machinist skills and computer programming. Students are attracted to the program, because it promotes the opportunity to land a creative, high-tech job after graduation.

Think outside-the-box.

The manufacturing industry has been redesigned, production lines are streamlined and there are ever increasing numbers of automated processes being leveraged throughout the organization. Manufacturers are looking for innovative workers that have math and science proficiency and problem-solving skills. The key for hiring skilled innovative workers is to think outside-the-box.

Manufacturers that think creatively about transferrable skills and migrating experience from other industries into manufacturing are finding hidden talent that may have slipped through the traditional recruitment process. Candidates with perspectives from outside of the manufacturing industry can add innovative activities and diversify the culture in a shop floor environment.

Track your candidates.

After recruiting, back-to-school initiatives and thinking outside-the-box, it is important for manufacturing talent scouts to strategically organize their hiring process. Manufacturers using software solutions to manage applicant data and recruiting processes are more effective at discovering the right candidates.

For example, having software that works closely with the applicant acquisition process allows manufacturing companies to accept applications online through a career portal. Qualifying applicants pass through a criteria driven automated screening process and all selected candidates are managed throughout the hiring process. Additionally, during each step of the hiring process, software can provide necessary data to hiring managers.

Addressing the emerging skills gap and attracting qualified new hires to the manufacturing industry is a real challenge that is crucial to the future of manufacturing in the U.S. Creating manufacturing training programs in schools, along with managing candidates through software solutions that utilize new recruiting strategies and search for non-traditional candidates establishes a path to fostering a new group of talent in the manufacturing industry.

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