Millennials are now the largest demographic of the global population, but why are so few interested in manufacturing careers, and what can be done to change their minds? The sector’s stability depends on it.

 

Worrying statistics for the manufacturing workforce

In the U.S., the public perception of manufacturing is generally good; it was ranked as being the fourth most important sector in the economy by members of the American public. However, the same study showed that only 30% of this audience would encourage their children to pursue careers in the same sector. Millennials have ranked manufacturing as their least preferred career destination. 

Job openings in manufacturing have been growing at double-digit rates since mid-2017, pointing to a widening gap between the jobs that need to be filled and the skilled talent pool capable of or willing to fill them. This widening skills gap may leave an estimated 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028, with a potential economic impact of $2.5 trillion.

What can be done to change Millennials’ mindset?

It’s likely that the archaic image of a dirty and sometimes dangerous factory still influences Millennials’ impression of a career in manufacturing. In fact, a study by Deloitte showed that there is also a gap between public perceptions and reality in terms of critical factors such as job stability, pay, and benefits in the sector. The good news is that the same study revealed the perception that future jobs in manufacturing are likely to be high-skilled, high-tech, cleaner, and safer, as well as more innovative and creative than they are now. Unfortunately, the sector can’t afford to wait that long before attracting the next generation of the workforce. 

 Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, automation and Internet of Things (IoT) technology is rapidly increasing the pace of change within manufacturing, and most manufacturing plants have little resemblance to the Victorian-era ‘hard-work-for-low-wages’ environments of old. Highlighting this new and high-tech environment coupled with the fact that manufacturing has the highest average wages of private sector industries ($81,289) and the highest tenure for workers (9.7 years) should make the sector an attractive prospect for Millennials. 

Strategy for change

As well as highlighting the discrepancies between public perception and reality, the sector must make a cooperative effort to cultivate an image as a forward-thinking, innovative and rapidly advancing industry. In order to compete with Silicon Valley companies for the best talent available, Millennials must be made to feel like they’re joining a sector which will have a real impact on the world as we know it, but also one in which there is plenty of room for growth. Offering tech-led opportunities is an ideal way to show manufacturing is just as attractive a prospect as consumer-facing organisations such as Apple or Google. 

Work/life balance is often cited as being top of Millennial’s wish-list. The manufacturing sector has a plethora of roles available which could cater for flexible working opportunities, and for Millennials who don’t want the claustrophobic environment of Silicon Valley, a readily available work/life balance could be a major draw. 

 

If your organisation is struggling to recruit and retain Millennial talent, we can help. As experts in the industry, we know what makes top talent tick, and what your organisation can do to attract the best of the best to your workforce. 

Are you struggling to fill manufacturing vacancies? We’re experts in the field. 

Gianna Legate

Content Marketing Specialist

Gianna has degrees in English and Marketing, and spends her days with Solutions Driven researching and reporting on the latest trends and recruitment industry insights.