One of the biggest differences between a decent recruiter and a great recruiter is their understanding of their industry. In order to effectively engage with candidates and hiring managers alike, recruiters need to understand the trends in the industry. They need to know what people are talking about and what talent problems companies are having. 

We’ve served the manufacturing industry for close to two decades now, but the recruiting landscape is always evolving. Here are three critical trends affecting recruiting in manufacturing. 

Addressing the Skills Gap 

One of the biggest challenges facing the manufacturing industry is the dearth of qualified talent. 20-30 years ago, a lot of jobs in manufacturing only required a high school diploma. Nowadays, not enough people have the technical skills required to work with advanced manufacturing technology like automation and AI.  

According to a 2019 skills gap study from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, 2.4 million positions are vacant due to the skills shortage, and only 2.2 million are likely to be filled. 

In response to this gap, many companies are hiring more recent graduates and implementing more training programs. But the skills gap also includes some roles that can’t be covered with some extra training. Senior-level individuals are also retiring or nearing retiring age, and manufacturers can’t find enough qualified candidates internally to replace them. 

The study cited above also reported that 2.69 million jobs are open from retirements. Combined with those from the skills shortage and those due to natural growth, the industry is expected to have 4.6 million roles to fill between 2018 and 2028. 

Rebranding the Work and Culture of Manufacturing Companies 

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of outdated yet persistent stereotypes about the manufacturing industry. Given the steady decline of manufacturing employment since the 1990s, many people still hold concerns that it doesn’t offer a stable career. Companies are adding jobs again, but they’re different than they were before the recession. Likewise, it’s often associated with punching the clock before hours of dull work on the production line. 

Manufacturing professionals know that the industry is nothing like it was 20+ years ago. Instead of dangerous, manual labor, professionals in the field now get to work in a high-tech field with plenty of opportunities for advancement. The trick is letting candidates know that. Companies must work on their employer branding to ensure that candidates know they’re offering desirable careers. 

Diversity is another issue here, as the perception of the industry as male-dominated is mostly accurate. Although women make up 47% of the total US workforce, they constitute only 29% of the manufacturing workforce. Manufacturers need to implement diversity initiatives and incorporate women into their employer branding to tap into this talent pool. 

Bolstering Pipelines for Young Talent 

More and more manufacturing companies are taking a proactive approach to their talent needs. Whether they’re struggling to recruit now or simply planning ahead, it’s always a good idea to build a stronger talent pipeline. Tomorrow’s all-star professionals may only be in high school, but it’s not too early to show them to the benefits of manufacturing careers or get a head start on education. 

Many leading manufacturers are working with high schools, middle schools, and community colleges to provide facility tours, internships, and other educational programs. It’s not a quick fix to any recruiting challenges by any means, but it’s a forward-thinking approach to building a stronger talent pipeline. 

Don’t Call It a Comeback 

Manufacturing has always played a critical part in the US economy, but these companies can’t stay competitive if they can’t find talent. These three trends exemplify ways that companies are taking a proactive approach to their talent issues – what is your company doing to fill your open roles? 

The right people, empowered to perform.