Recruitment and HR Blog
The Challenge of Talent Attraction and Retention in the Manufacturing industry
Despite numerous initiatives, a 2023 survey by People Management showed that 24% of people within the Manufacturing industry still believe there is an image problem.
The fact that there is a universal problem where there are too few graduates educated in the STEM disciplines intensifies the number of people available to a wide range of industries. In manufacturing the outdated reputation for workplaces that aren’t safe, clean, or progressive, as well as the misconception by younger generations that manufacturing lacks competitive wages, innovation, and sophistication intensifies the issue.
It is understandable that manufacturing has trouble attracting and retaining new talent given that Gen Z and millennials make up about 38% of the global workforce and they don’t believe their expectations of meaningful careers that align with their values match to working in manufacturing.
The manufacturing industry can begin to solve the image issue by building stronger relationships with schools, colleges and universities. This co-operation creates the opportunity to demonstrate the variety of roles available and the fact that manufacturing is now looking for new skills and talent that have long term career potential.
The impact of automation and robotization
Great strides in the modernisation, automation and digitalisation of the manufacturing industry have brought it into competition for key talent with many other sectors of the economy.
So, the challenge of image alongside perceptions around pay and conditions have now been exacerbated as the industry now faces stiff competition for new technology roles.
However, if manufacturing can promote itself as a future based industry where people are working with cutting edge technology in automated environments, the old image will be replaced with one of high potential and attractive careers.
Time to invest in upskilling
Employee retention and upskilling the existing workforce remain critical pillars in any plan to minimise workforce shortages. Retention requires adequate training for all employees to keep them up to date with the latest developments within the industry and best prepare them for upcoming challenges.
Investment in training and development is crucial in upskilling the existing workforce as the opportunity for professional growth will retain more key employees for longer and create greater levels of employee satisfaction and stimulation.
The statistics from the Make UK Q1 2023 HR Bulletin point towards more companies in the manufacturing sector are investing in its employees.
Employee engagement, retention and an ageing workforce
With 75% of manufacturers confirming that they are worried about an ageing workforce, now is the time for positive action. The fact that this creates the threat of substantial shortages in the workforce means that minimizing attrition and building a pipeline of new talent is absolutely critical for the future growth of manufacturing.
So, are the employee engagement processes in place to stop attrition? Surveys have shown that currently manufacturing has lower levels of employee engagement than any other industry. Which is something that simply won’t retain new or existing talent, and particularly millennials who demand more from their employer.
Three things that can begin to deliver employee engagement:
A “Voice of the Employee” Scheme… where there is a structure in place for meaningful communication between employees and employers.
A wellbeing strategy that supports employees using internal or external resources. I am sure many of you will be aware that this is Mental Health Awareness week highlighting the importance of this issue to employees and employers.
A formal Equality, Diversion, and Inclusion policy that will attract new talent and create a more inclusive workplace. This is something that again requires positive action and genuine demonstration of an intent to change.
The manufacturing industry needs to recognise that an investment in employee engagement can retain key talent and boost productivity.
There is no doubt the industry has a challenge, but Talent Attraction teams can utilise learnings from other sectors to create both short and long term plans that will build a talent pipeline for years to come.
So, these are some of the initiatives that will begin to impact your recruitment now and in the future:
Be the best version of yourself as an employer
Create an employer brand that talks to a younger audience and that represents modern manufacturing, an industry that’s on the cutting edge of technology and pushing innovation barriers every day.
Think competitive and be competitive!
All sectors of the economy are competing for the talent pool that manufacturing needs to attract, so the employee value proposition needs to demonstrate the full value of a career in manufacturing showcasing diversity, investment in training and the ability to be well rewarded.
Communicate and appeal to people in education who value innovation and stimulation.
Think about where the target audience are for the talent required and engage with them through social media in a way that they understand by promoting the amazing innovation in UK manufacturing.
Don’t allow poor outdated processes to cost you the hard-earned talent that you worked so hard to attract. Use technology to manage the process and create an engaging journey for the candidates. Before your next campaign look at the recruitment process from the candidate perspective.
For manufacturing whilst it can’t be ignored that investment will be required, particularly in training, there are fundamental changes that can come through improvements in employee engagement and the development of compelling talent attraction strategies to close the talent gap now and in the future.