What are the essential strategies for manufacturing companies looking to attract tech talent?
By Jason Truesdell, Executive Director at IndustrialML
Despite a record number of new hires, job openings in the manufacturing industry have plateaued at a high of 800,000. Additionally, voluntary separations are higher than layoffs and discharges, suggesting high employee turnover. This shortage of workers, combined with supply chain constraints, is causing a decrease in operational efficiency and profitability. Therefore, manufacturers need to take steps to make their talent retention strategies more effective.
The sector has historically been given the cold shoulder due to the perception of its jobs being low-paid and labor-intensive. This has made it difficult for the industry to adjust to the current cultural trend of remote and hybrid working, as manufacturing largely relies on physical locations.
In a general sense, manufacturing companies need to create talent management and recruitment strategies that appeal to a younger, more mobile, diverse, and global workforce in order to combat labor scarcity. Companies should focus on more than just pay when trying to attract workers, as a more holistic HR approach is necessary. Furthermore, businesses should work on challenging existing perceptions that may be turning away potential female employees in order to access a larger labor pool.
More specifically, industry leaders must analyze the skills of their current employees and determine what is needed for the future. Automation is having a drastic effect on manufacturing, so there is a demand for digital skills from tech talent and increased investment in training and re-training.
Let’s dive into the strategies to attract the vast amount of tech talent available in more detail.
The modern prospective employee simply has different priorities from what many legacy companies are used to. In the manufacturing and logistics sector, there are some key statistics to be aware of which demonstrate the shift:
24% of workers say their mental health has worsened over the past 12 months
44% of workers in the sector are concerned about experiencing burnout in the future
63% of workers worry that their salary is not high enough to deal with current rates of inflation.
Manufacturing recruiters hiring tech employees need to be transparent and acknowledge these trends. To ensure a fast and transparent recruitment process, companies should invest in centralized, digital end-to-end hiring solutions. This will allow for a streamlined process, quicker response times to candidates (within 24 hours or sooner), and easy access to data regarding the recruitment process. Such digital solutions will help to move away from manual reporting and create a more efficient hiring process.
To attract job seekers in the manufacturing industry, LinkedIn and Facebook are great platforms to use. LinkedIn has 6.5 million jobs posted and 500 million members; nearly 90% of recruiters use it to source candidates. On Facebook, manufacturers can consider creating a city-specific industry group and inviting their employees to share it with their networks.
Flexibility and diversity
In response to the changing nature of work, manufacturers are rightfully reinventing the way they go about their operations. They should explore hybrid work models that offer flexibility to both employers and employees, as well as introducing new strategies to attract and retain workers, such as focusing on factors like well-being and flexibility. This could be especially beneficial for the younger generation entering the workforce from tech companies, as well as more experienced workers.
In order to mitigate the current labor shortage in manufacturing, many companies have begun to implement diversity programs that focus on recruiting and retaining women. Maersk is one such company that has made a commitment to increasing the percentage of women in management roles to 40% and the percentage of underrepresented nationalities among executives to 30% by 2025. These measures are seen as essential in order to build strong, resilient businesses.
Engaging a tech audience
One of the challenges in a lot of tech companies is the distance from the customer. Information about the end user may be filtered through program and product managers to the point where it feels detached from the day-to-day reality of the business.
This is one of the benefits of manufacturing, where technical solutions allow you to solve the pain points directly, and you see the result in the product. This isn’t always the case in the tech space, where various directives and frameworks can interfere.
An ESG focus
According to a recent PWC survey, an overwhelming majority of consumers (83%), leaders (91%), and workers (86%) agree that companies have a duty to address environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Companies need to incorporate ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) agendas into their operations, understanding that these are vital components of their success—not just something to promote to potential employees that sounds impressive.
As manufacturing companies transition away from solely defensive strategies and towards comprehensive sustainability plans, taking a strategic and people-focused approach allows them to take advantage of the abundant possibilities of a green and equitable economy.
Jason Truesdell has worked extensively on software engineering projects for the past 25 years, including design work with Microsoft, the Seattle Times, Getty Images and Disney. Jason joined IndustrialML as a principal software architect, where he developed their full stack architecture and the code base necessary to transmit live data from manufacturing customer production lines to the platform. He supervises all software and product work in tandem with the IndustrialML business team and development partners at one-to-ONE Holdings.