How Can Manufacturers Appeal to a Younger Generation?

When it comes to manufacturing, the Millennial and Gen Z generations simply don’t have glowing aspirations to enter the industry—this is a big issue moving forward. These young workers don’t feel they can advance their careers in manufacturing because businesses are often marketed poorly, allowing negative perceptions to proliferate.

Good marketing is required in a push to brighten up manufacturing. For example, though it may seem insignificant, manufacturing offices are often much grimmer and poorly designed. There is much room for improvement and expansion, with open-plan offices and generally more attention to the modern working environment.

Furthermore, you’ll be more successful in attracting top talent if you demonstrate that you’re open to helping your employees further their careers for reasons other than ROI or business growth. Additionally, investing in new technology is essential for keeping up with trends—technological advancements support continual improvement and workforce growth.

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 resulted in an increase in flexibility, a boom in technology to enable remote working, and the realization that even in manufacturing, we can do more to provide front-line workers with a flexible, ambitious, and empowered working environment. But factories have a long way to go before delivering on this promise.

Open up the Barriers

The existing practices of requiring long apprenticeships or needing to learn the ropes for many years should be a thing of the past. They force manufacturers to hire people who can only succeed in specific roles, mainly on the factory floor, who will remain in those positions for a long time. This practice is simply not the paradigm for the younger generation.

As a manufacturer, if you are solely relying on people who have expertise in running a steel factory, or a paper mill, then you’re just going to be targeting an ever-dwindling pool of people whom you have to pay more money to keep.

Having real-time communication and critical alerts lowers the barrier to entry for those who may not have advanced degrees and may not yet know the nuances of a factory. New staff can learn these skills quickly within a few years, with the help of digitized operations to give floor personnel the training and cooperation required to perform their roles. This means that those with software development degrees, for example, can apply their skills to manufacturing and provide meaningful value.

Manufacturing at the Technological Forefront

Although machines are getting more complex for operators as technology advances, there is still a strong dependence on archaic and unworkable procedures, making it difficult for frontline workers to keep up with worldwide digitalization. Frontline personnel are not provided with enough equipment to help them do their duties.

Yet, digitally savvy people will anticipate that manufacturing will be at the forefront of innovation, and why shouldn’t they? Large-scale producers especially should utilize technological advancements and innovation while maximizing every opportunity.

The IndustrialML platform provides real-time communication on production issues for operators. That involves acquiring data from the source, sending data to a wide variety of destinations and stakeholders, and even converting speech to text. Those with data analysis backgrounds can use that knowledge to drive better worker performance and machine productivity within the manufacturing space.

Employee Engagement and Hiring

The last major problem that needs addressing is online recruitment. Even though the manufacturing sector lost 578,000 jobs in the pandemic-affected year 2020—a statistic that equals almost six years of job growth—over 500,000 manufacturing positions have remained vacant at any one time in the last six months.

According to Gallup research, organizations with strong employee engagement had lower churn rates, increased productivity, profitability, and customer loyalty. However, only 25% of manufacturing employees feel engaged at work.

Far too often, employee engagement is seen as just soliciting feedback with anonymous surveys, where there needs to be an extra layer. This cannot be something left to the HR department for the token quarterly review—it needs to be embedded within the company’s culture, with regular check-ins and space for employees to speak their minds.

While many of the suggestions mentioned above aim to alleviate particular problems, the industry needs to cooperate to change how future generations of workers perceive manufacturing. We need to use technological developments to allow those with various backgrounds to find work and engage employees in both the hiring process and in-house. This will, in turn, broaden and diversify the pipeline of applicants and build a sustainable workforce not reliant on old industry practices.

For more information on IndustrialML’s smart factory platform and how it can improve your business, request a demo.

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