Manufacturing Workforce Strategies for an Empowered Future

Manufacturing Workforce Strategies for an Empowered Future

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The manufacturing sector continues to thrive and grow. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, four million new manufacturing positions will need to be filled by 2030 to keep up with the growth. This creates a highly competitive situation in the labor market, and manufacturing organizations must improve their talent attraction and retention practices.

Finding the right strategies can empower a manufacturing workforce for success. Below are some of the top 2024 trends we see for manufacturing hiring here at MRINetwork. Use these tips to inform your manufacturing strategies this year and beyond.

Use AI and Other Digital Tools for Talent Acquisition

Hiring managers and HR teams has more talent acquisition tools than ever before. Between popular online job boards and HCM (human capital management) software suites, recruiting, hiring, and retention are much more advanced than just a decade ago. However, the fact remains that manufacturers still face unique challenges in acquiring the right talent. Fortunately, technology is offering new solutions to help solve these problems.

Hiring applications leveraging artificial intelligence can help find the right candidates in tough markets. AI and other digital tools can screen applicants, helping recruiting teams zero in on the best-suited engineers, machinists, and technicians for any given role. From now on, the use of highly evolved digital tools in the talent acquisition process will be a competitive advantage for all manufacturers.

Build a Talent Pipeline With Local Schools

Filling millions of manufacturing positions over the next few years will be no easy task. Standard hiring practices may not withstand such strain, so some manufacturing organizations are expanding their scope. Innovative manufacturers build talent pipelines by collaborating on STEM programs with community colleges and universities. 

This can take many forms, from sponsoring school events to teaching classes at partner schools. Whatever route you choose, these partnerships promote your manufacturing company to students who will soon be looking for work. An external talent pipeline serves as both community involvement and a strategy for long-term talent development. This outside-the-box thinking can help grow the talent pool and direct more eligible candidates toward your hiring managers.

Offer Flexibility and Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and with more people working from home, many workers in all industries have seriously considered the importance of work-life balance. Since then, this has been an important point in workforce strategies. While manufacturing work limits work-from-home opportunities, you can offer scheduling flexibility.

In early 2023, a NAM survey found 46.8% of manufacturing organizations offer flexible scheduling options when possible. You can expect this number to increase over time, as the workforce prioritizes work-life balance. Beyond flexible scheduling, other popular perks include compressed work weeks and the ability to swap shifts with co-workers easily.

Embrace Employee Training and Upskilling

In tight labor markets where the workforce has choices, applicants seek positions that offer room to grow. Implementing a robust employee training program is an excellent way to show candidates they will have career opportunities if they join your firm. Upskilling should be a core company value that can take place outside formal training classes. This helps with employee retention, which takes on added importance when hiring is so challenging. 

The digital tools employed in your manufacturing processes can significantly free up hours per day, time spent learning new skills. There are several options for learning, from online courses to shadowing co-workers. You can also provide career roadmaps for certain positions to help motivate employees to grow at your company instead of leaving for better opportunities. 

Building a Strong Foundation for Successful Workforce Strategies

While these strategies are all different, there is a common foundation. Each strategy positions your manufacturing organization as modern and innovative. Whether it’s using AI to fine-tune recruiting efforts, building a talent pipeline through community partnerships, or embracing a culture of upskilling, all show your company is in touch with what today’s workforce is looking for.

This spirit of modernization and innovation should also extend to your core manufacturing operations. Job candidates are seeking manufacturers that embrace digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0 smart factories, as these are the hallmarks of a modern manufacturer. If your company hasn’t yet built a foundation on these current trends, there’s a chance you could lose some of the best candidates on the market.

An expert talent management firm can help you stay on top of the latest trends in manufacturing or any other industry. Find an MRINetwork office near you for expert talent management services.