However, although it’s clearly a massively important part of the economy, that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges associated with it, and recruiting is one such challenge. The job market is a competitive one, and trying to find candidates in the manufacturing industry and then ensuring you’re attracting and retaining skilled workers is a crucial part of running this kind of enterprise. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what these manufacturing recruitment challenges are, and then we can work out how to overcome them.
The Challenges Of Manufacturing Recruitment
There are a few different challenges that are going to come up when you start thinking about recruiting for the manufacturing sector, and it’s wise to consider them all so you can come up with various plans to overcome the issues and move forward with the right workers and the best skills.
Shortage of workers
One of the biggest challenges is that this industry faces a shortage of workers, and this shortage of potential candidates is something that’s causing ripples in manufacturing recruitment and beyond. There’s a gap between the demand for qualified candidates and how many candidates there are in the talent pool, and that gap seems to be getting bigger, with other industries seemingly more interesting or exciting and manufacturing roles being left behind. Since these roles do tend to need a specific set of skills and experience, it’s clear that manufacturing companies need to look at this problem with the labor market and make adjustments if possible – make the manufacturing industry one that people want to work in, or at least make your company, which just happens to be in the manufacturing sector, one people want to work at and for.
Negative perceptions towards the manufacturing industry
Another problem is that the manufacturing sector has to deal with negative perceptions towards the manufacturing industry that seem to have become a big issue in society, whether those negative ideas are actually true or not. Many people, and perhaps especially those in the younger generation, think of manufacturing roles as boring, outdated, and lacking creativity. That’s especially true when these roles are compared to new jobs that have been created over the last few years, including many in the media and social media sectors – they’re seen as glamorous and exciting, and manufacturing can’t keep up. This image problem means it can be hard when it comes to attracting and retaining qualified candidates and overcoming these stereotypes involves a lot of hard work to show that manufacturing can be an enticing and exciting career.
Then there’s the work-life balance problem. Having a good work-life balance is something more and more people realise is essential for their health and happiness, and that’s a good thing. The issue is that manufacturing roles can be fairly demanding, and they might even have outdated work environments, which means many people feel they won’t get the work-life balance they’re looking for in the manufacturing sector.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped either. Many businesses had to adapt to remote working during that time, and although that’s perfectly fine for many sectors, it’s not going to work for the manufacturing sector. This led to a number of issues, one of which was that some manufacturing roles disappeared as businesses had to close, leading people to retrain and find other careers, and those coming up and starting their careers might well have been put off manufacturing due to a lack of roles and looked for a different career altogether. Now that everything’s open again and those roles exist and need filling once more, there aren’t enough people to take them on.
On top of that, remote working has become the norm for many, and they enjoy it (this is often linked to the work-life balance, as mentioned above). Why would they want to come back to the manufacturing industry and work out of factories if they can find a role in another industry where they can work remotely? The manufacturing recruitment sector has a lot of challenges to deal with.
How To Overcome These Challenges
There are certainly challenges when it comes to manufacturing recruitment, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to attract the right candidates and fill roles – it’s just a matter of understanding what these challenges are and working out how to overcome them. It becomes something of a puzzle, but if you want the top talent for the jobs you have available, it’s a puzzle that has to be solved. Let’s take a look at some of the options and get a better understanding of what you need to do for success.
Attracting And Retaining Talent
One of the biggest manufacturing recruitment challenges is attracting and retaining the best candidates – candidates who will become happy and productive employees, in other words. There is a specific demand in manufacturing for certain skills and experience, and that can mean there aren’t many candidates with those qualifications to apply for jobs, and you’ll really not only be trying to attract applicants but fight off the competition who are looking for the same roles to be filled. If there is only a small number of applicants, you want to have a first pick.
something that can often work well is to ensure you make a big deal out of the positive aspects of your work environment and promote a healthy work-life balance as one of the reasons people should apply to your job openings rather than anyone else’s. If this is something they’re concerned about, showing them that it’s not anything they have to worry about when working for you is a great tactic. It shows you understand them and that you’re doing what you can to make them not just welcome but ensure they have long-term comfort as well.
Another great way to overcome the recruitment challenges you’re sure to come up against (or perhaps that you’ve already come up against) is to make your company as adaptive and flexible as possible. True, you might not be able to offer remote working for everyone – you need people in your business to actually make the items you sell, after all, and that can’t be done from home – but what about flexible hours? Later or earlier starts and later or earlier finishes could help someone with their childcare issues, give them a chance to enjoy a hobby more, or just allow them to work at the time when they’re most productive – everyone is different in that regard, and it’s useful to give people the option. Whatever the reason it’s needed, flexible working is something many people, particularly in the younger generation, are looking for, and offering it could help sway them when it comes to applying for your vacant roles, and it will help with candidate sourcing.
As mentioned above, there is a negative stereotype associated with manufacturing, and this image problem of being boring, outdated, and not creative is something that can really get in the way of attracting excellent candidates not only to your business but to the sector in general. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic has made things even more difficult because the manufacturing sector looks even more out of date and left behind since it’s less able to adapt to remote working, as many other sectors could, did, and still do.
If you want to overcome manufacturing recruitment challenges, you need to overcome the idea that manufacturing is out-of-date. As we said, flexible working is a great place to start, but there are other things you can do, such as ensuring your business is as environmentally friendly as possible. Having a positive commitment to the environment, especially in manufacturing, which doesn’t have the best reputation in that regard, could make a big difference when it comes to attracting new recruits.
The fact is that people, and in particular the younger generation, are much more aware of the need to take care of the planet than ever before, and they’ll often choose to work in a place that has a good understanding of how to be eco-friendly and sustainable. If you can show you can do that, more candidates will choose your roles compared to your competitors. As a bonus, your customers will love it too. In general, showing concern about full inclusion and environmental and social problems in society indicates a forward-thinking company.
Don’t Forget Soft Skills
Although you’ll certainly be looking for some level of technical know-how and expertise when you’re considering candidates to employ, don’t forget that soft skills are also important – good communication, teamwork, and adaptability, among many other skills, can all benefit your business.
In other words, remember that manufacturing skills can be taught, and offering training to people who have the right soft skills means you can open up your talent pool and accept more applicants, giving you a lot more choice. Once you know what you need, you can use hiring automation to make things easier and ensure you get the right candidates every time.
In the end, overcoming manufacturing recruitment challenges is something that has to be done – there’s no question about that. Taking the time to understand what challenges manufacturing has means you can put excellent systems in place to get past them, ensuring you end up with the best candidates for the jobs you need filled. Although it might take some time, it’s worth it when you realize it’s your employees that will take your business forward.
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