After decades of decline in employment, the U.S. manufacturing sector is growing again. While the upswing is positive news for the U.S. economy, manufacturers face a projected shortage of 2.4 million employees over the next decade. In addition to talent shortages, TA teams are dealing with across industries, manufacturing recruiters are contending with a particular set of hiring challenges as the sector moves into the digital age.
Here are five of the manufacturing industry recruiting trends that are changing the way hiring is done:
Increase in demand for candidates with STEM skills
During the job boom in 20th-century manufacturing, a high school diploma was the primary qualification for candidates, providing employers with a large talent pool for recruitment and hiring. With the increase in use of automation, robotics, AI and advanced manufacturing equipment, today’s companies need a higher percentage of candidates with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) college degrees. TA teams in manufacturing need to expand beyond traditional sourcing channels to fill these skilled roles. In addition, they’re up against more competition for the same candidates: Companies plan to hire 17% more college graduates from the Class of 2019 than in the prior year.
Need for rebranding manufacturing careers and culture
Typical stereotypes of manufacturing work against recruiters trying to attract millennial talent. Whether based in reality or not, manufacturing jobs have often been seen as low-paying and insecure, and characterized by a punch-the-timeclock culture. Millennials often look for just the opposite – jobs with purpose, flexibility and a decent paycheck. Recruiters have to conquer negative perceptions just to start filling the top of the funnel.
Lack of experienced senior-level employees
Senior-level manufacturing employees tend to stay with their company for decades, if not their entire careers. Many of these general plant managers, VPs of purchasing or operations, engineers and other key-role employees are now approaching retirement, but the lack of promotion opportunity from within means companies don’t have enough experienced internal candidates they can move up. The options for recruiters include attracting more passive candidates, and sourcing candidates with management experience in other industries, both of which require more time and effort.
Manufacturing growth is in small towns and mid-sized cities
Manufacturing job growth has shifted away from Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston – three of the largest manufacturing centers historically, and into America’s small towns and midsize metro areas. Recruiters dealing with smaller talent pools and new locations need expand their candidate reach.
Lack of pipelines for young talent
Hand-in-hand with the need to rebrand is the need to establish stronger future manufacturing candidate pipelines. Students in high school and even middle school get many opportunities to explore career interests through visits to employers, short programs that give students a big-picture look at career choices, and internships. Manufacturers just starting initiatives like this are competing with sectors like healthcare, business consulting and the military which already have strong pipelining programs in place.
Moving to a Digital Hiring Process
Despite advances in technology on the manufacturing floor, TA in manufacturing companies is still often playing catch-up with their hiring process and candidate experience. Technologies like video interviewing platforms which integrate on-demand and live interviews, text interviewing, automated scheduling, combined interviews and assessments, and AI-enabled virtual recruiting assistants can assist manufacturing recruiters as they look to engage modern candidates and deliver a fast, simple and convenient hiring experience.
You can learn more about ways to transform your hiring with technology by downloading, What’s Hurting Your Candidate Experience?