It’s no secret that manufacturers have been struggling to attract talent. While a lot of their employees are finally aging out of the workforce, young people are turning their noses up at careers in the manufacturing sector. 

The challenge is especially pronounced in rural or less densely populated areas. Unfortunately, many small and medium-sized manufacturers are some distance away from urban centers.  

If manufacturers want to get serious about talent attraction and retention, they need to make sure their strategy here leaves no room for error. Furthermore, businesses should look at this challenge as something of an opportunity.  

If you can attract and retain quality talent while others struggle to meet their talent needs, you will have a crucial edge on competitors. Your business will run more efficiently, offer better service to customers, and enable you to create better products. 

Prepare to Meet Some Candidates Halfway 

No business should make concessions when hiring talent, but the fact of the matter is that in many markets, you are unlikely to find the perfect candidate. All industries are facing something of a skills gap at the moment, but the manufacturing sector is being hit harder than most. Companies need to carefully and proactively form a plan for transferring skills from industry veterans to younger talent. 

We all want to hire candidates who can hit the ground running with minimal training, but the wide skills gap means it may be more productive to someone with a great attitude and a proficiency for learning. In some cases, waiting for the perfect candidate could be more detrimental to your business than simply hiring someone who needs some training. 

Furthermore, manufacturers should implement knowledge transfer programs to ensure that they have qualified talent ready to replace senior professionals. 

Give Your Employer Brand a New Coat of Paint 

Unfortunately, public perception of manufacturing careers and companies are in the pits. A 2018 survey from Industry Week revealed that 70% of Americans view manufacturing to be in decline, while only 55% of Americans thought that manufacturing jobs offer a fulfilling career.  

The general consensus is that manufacturing jobs are dirty, repetitive, unfulfilling and low paying. However, anyone in manufacturing could tell you that this simply isn’t the case anymore. Manufacturing companies need to promote their businesses as high-tech, forward-thinking organizations with great careers for younger folks. That means highlighting room for advancement, valuable skills training, and other perks. 

However, businesses should recognize the difference between impressive value propositions (flexible schedules, training and continuing education, genuine opportunities for advancement) and basic expectations (healthcare, competitive pay, 2 weeks PTO, and a “great culture). The former is impressive – the latter makes you look a little out of touch. It’s not attractive to candidates to see a company offering basic benefits as a flashy perk. 

Tighten Up Job Descriptions to Entice Candidates to Apply 

One of the most common mistakes we see with job descriptions is that they don’t go far enough to sell the position. You can separate the seed from the chaff once people have applied – but if you’re not getting enough qualified applicants to apply, then you have a problem. 

A job description shouldn’t just be a lengthy list of qualifications – you should boil it down to the essential credentials. Furthermore, a good portion of the description should detail why this job is a great opportunity for candidates. 

A Proactive Strategy is Essential 

When talent is in short supply, the companies that win are those that take a proactive, comprehensive approach to recruiting. What is your business doing to gain an edge in the talent war? 

The right people, empowered to perform.