Faced with an aging workforce and a rapidly changing technological environment, many manufacturers in the US are having a tough time filling positions. In the past, 55 percent of jobs in manufacturing were unskilled. Today, the majority of jobs now require skilled workers. Younger workers entering the workforce imagine a manufacturing position as outdated or even “boring.” How do we, as manufacturers, attract skilled employees who are interested in careers in manufacturing?
Manufacturers across the US are taking innovative steps to attract skilled workers:
- Start an apprenticeship program. Bring talented high school or technical school students into your company to begin an apprenticeship while they’re still in school. In April of 2014, President Obama gave $100 million in federal grants to companies who began apprenticeship programs.
- Conduct a manufacturing “summer camp.” The Fabricators and Manufacturers Association partnered with two other associations in 2011 to start “Gadget Camp” where they engaged teenagers to build things from concept to creation. Attendees are required to design their products with CAD technology. They hope to start as many as 300 of these camps nationwide.
- Partner with your local community colleges. Work together to find federal grant money to start advanced manufacturing programs to train technical workers.
- Keep your equipment updated. Invest in technological advances in your industry. If you stay on the cusp of technology, you’ll be more likely to attract younger workers who are accustomed to high-tech tools.
- Help improve the image of manufacturing careers. Encourage employees to attend career days at local high schools or to career exploration classes at local community colleges. Help spread the word that the manufacturing environment is a changing and viable career path.
As manufacturers, we have a responsibility to sustain our industry. The way to attract skilled, talented workers to our companies is to work within our communities to spread the word that manufacturing is a challenging and fulfilling job opportunity.
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