- Manufacturers will need a compelling vision that includes clear career pathways and training opportunities to attract millennial and Generation Z job candidates, according to a report published last month by Tooling U-SME, an industry training nonprofit.
- Workers of younger generations "expect companies to demonstrate a strong sense of purpose and want to be part of that," Tooling U-SME said, and manufacturers can appeal to such workers by showing how each individual role ties into the company's broader mission. The nonprofit also called development programs a "must-have perk," citing 2018 research by LinkedIn that showed 62% of surveyed Gen Z members wanted to learn to improve at their job, while 59% sought to do so to earn more.
- In April 2020, a Tooling U-SME study found 52% of manufacturers surveyed said their companies would be allowing some employees to work remotely, reflecting a larger push to rely on technology, per the report. Tooling U-SME said its past research has shown manufacturers plan to invest in tech such as 3D printing and robotics, which could appeal to younger workers familiar with or interested in advanced tech.
The pandemic has impacted virtually all categories of U.S. workers, with some acute setbacks faced by younger workers. For example, a May report by HR management software platform Gusto found that, among small businesses, workers under the age of 25 experienced a 93% higher rate of layoffs compared to those ages 35 and older. As of January, the seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate stood at 9.7% for workers ages 20 to 24, compared to 5.7% for those ages 25 and older.
Additionally, College Reaction's mid-April 2020 survey found three-quarters of college students saw their internships or post-graduate jobs canceled in response to the pandemic, and more than half cited mental health distress due to the pandemic.
The result means employers have had to rethink how they reach out to and recruit younger candidates, sources previously told HR Dive. For example, employers may look for different types of experiences from such candidates.
Overall, however, manufacturers should not generalize about younger employees, Tooling U-SME said in a statement accompanying its report. Instead, the organization said employers should offer younger employees the opportunity to share ideas and goals during brainstorming sessions and offer regular and immediate feedback.
Manufacturers may already have the interest of younger employees. A 2019 survey of Gen Z members by manufacturing software provider Leading2Lean found respondents were 7% more likely to consider working in manufacturing compared to the general population, and were also less likely to view the industry sector negatively compared to other workers.
To address the Tooling U-SME's commentary on training needs, manufacturers will need to contend with a widening digital skills gap. An April 2020 National Skills Coalition report found that one in three manufacturing workers have limited or no digital skills, which the coalition said is "especially problematic in the modern environments of advanced and precision manufacturing." That could make attracting candidates with strong technology-oriented skills all the more important for the sector.