It's no secret that manufacturers have already been finding it difficult to fill the skills gap with new generations entering the workforce. But even with the shortage of talent skilled in manufacturing crafts now, the gap is only going to get bigger without some changes across the industry. As the skilled workforce begins to age out, the pull for entry into the field needs to get more innovative. While there's no immediate fix, manufacturers are already finding ways to improve prospects at the present while laying the foundation for future workforce strength, and this recent study by Kronos for The Manufacturer has some great highlights.
Offering a Stronger Career Path
With recruitment and retention being one of the most disruptive forces affecting manufacturers, some have worked to define clearer career progression for current and prospective employees. We know that having room and opportunity to grow is a motivating factor that improves employee engagement. With better clarity around career expectations (and some small shifts to appeal to modern lifestyle flexibility), manufacturing can recapture the attention of people making key decisions about their skill development and career trajectory.
Encouraging Young Aspiration to Build
Manufacturing today is by and large a cleaner, safer career path than what kids learn in their history books. Among education, government and business organizations alike, not enough has been done to change the face of manufacturing and capture the dreams of our society's next great builders and makers, but some have started the mission. Businesses in the UK are increasingly partnering with schools, hosting tours and creating workshops in order to set greater expectations for the fulfilling potential of careers in manufacturing — especially for in-demand roles requiring hard, technical skills, like engineering.
Training for the Craft
Perhaps in a surprising shift, some manufacturers are reintroducing apprenticeships to the field. It's certainly an investment, but one with a firm focus on the future. There's some real merit to this short-term spend when the alternative may be fighting in a shrinking pool of talent by appealing with top dollar. When educational and governmental systems aren't doing enough, the industry still has the power to step up for itself.
These are just some of the ways manufacturers are leading the charge for building a stronger skilled workforce and combatting outdated impressions. It's likely we'll see these efforts grow in number in the years to come as the threat of an aging workforce rears its head, but the early innovators among employers will have the upper hand (and the stronger talent!).