Manufacturing’s Opening Doors for Young Talent

It’s no secret that nearly every industry is facing a labor shortage. Manufacturing specifically has seen a 35% decline in employment since its peak of 19.6 million workers nearly 40 years ago. In the early days of the pandemic, 1.4 million manufacturing jobs became vacant, and by the end of 2020, 570,000 were still unfulfilled. According to Ben Armstrong, Interim Executive Director and a research scientist at MIT’s Industrial Performance Center, “The pandemic-era resignations and quits are there, but the real issue is [unfilled] job openings and demand for job openings.” Because the global economy relies so heavily on manufacturing frontline workers, companies must figure out how to bring life back to the industry.

It’s hard to look past the stereotypes of manufacturing, often thought to be an old-fashioned industry of baby boomer employees that’s built on dated technology. In reality, only ¼ of the manufacturing workforce is from the boomer generation. As this generation continues toward retirement, the future of manufacturing lies in the hands of the incoming Gen Z workforce. Recent data suggests that 25% of Gen Z employees are planning to leave their current position in the next six months, with 75% having the willingness to change industry and career paths entirely, opening the door to fill manufacturing positions. The question is: how are factories going to attract younger workers to manufacturing?

At Redzone, we are ready for the generational transition. We built our reputation on bringing technological advancement to manufacturing and creating an approachable software platform for all generations and skill levels. For others in the industry to follow in our footsteps and encourage hiring to build a strong future for manufacturing in the US, our team recommends:

  • Updating your perspective on what attracts employees. We are well beyond the days of hiring bonuses and short-term perks being the items that seal the deal for potential new employees. Instead, employers must redirect their focus to overall employee benefits, like paid leave and vacation time, and the opportunity to learn and develop careers. Today’s workforce wants to feel like they’re making a difference and have a bigger say in their growth path.
  • Prioritizing employee career and skills growth. In conjunction with career development, manufacturing companies must provide upskill training to be able to retain talent. Both existing and potential employees want to know their company will provide opportunities to build on existing skill sets and explore new areas of growth, whether it’s related to their current position or provides exposure to a new area of the business.
  • Investing in your frontline workers. To grow with the world’s technological advancements, manufacturing must also adopt new technology in a timely manner. Modern, cloud-based training and software can convince new workers that there’s a future in the tech-forward manufacturing sector. Younger generations entering the workforce expect their employers to bring in new technology that makes their jobs more streamlined and productive – and manufacturing is no different.

We are seeing an upward trend in manufacturing employment, with 297,000 jobs filled so far in 2022. We are excited to see this interest and momentum in the manufacturing industry and look forward to all that the new generation of frontline workers will achieve. Click here to learn more about Redzone’s mission and the strength behind the Redzone community.

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