December 16, 2013
Just as the U.S. jobless rate hits a five-year low, and companies project stronger growth, manufacturers are in danger of losing out on the upswing because of a lackadaisical recruitment and rebranding effort, according to research from ThomasNet.com.
A recent ThomasNet.com® Industry Market Barometer® (IMB) survey shows a troubling trend in the manufacturing industry: Despite the fact that 63 percent — nearly two-thirds of the survey's 1,029 manufacturing respondents — expect to grow in 2013, companies are not attracting Generation Y (18 to 32 years old) candidates to replace retiring baby boomers fast enough. With this generation projected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, manufacturers need an aggressive plan to bring them in and teach them the business. Yet 80 percent of respondents report that Generation Y represents a very small fraction of their employee base, and most don’t see that changing soon.
"North American manufacturing could be knocked out of its long-held, global leadership position if companies fail to attract enough people to keep up with increasing customer demand," said Paul Gerbino, publisher, ThomasNet News®. "They may even reverse some of the gains they have made bringing manufacturing jobs back from overseas. Long-term, a lack of attention to workforce-related issues will negatively impact the economy as well as their businesses."
Part of the problem, according to Gerbino, is that many millennials are either unaware of manufacturing as a career opportunity or see this career as undesirable. At a time when 3-D printing, robotics, and other advances are making manufacturing a "hot technology sector," they still see these jobs as "dirty, rote, grease under their fingernails positions," he noted.
Indeed, nearly three-quarters of the IMB respondents believe that negative perceptions of the manufacturing profession are preventing younger people from joining forces with them. This comes at a time when more than 40 percent say they are hiring for positions from engineering to production management.
"With hundreds of thousands of jobs going begging, it’s no exaggeration to say that North American manufacturers could soon be hitting a glass ceiling of their own making. They need to become advocates for their profession and inject the ‘cool factor’ back into manufacturing," Gerbino explained.
To support manufacturers, ThomasNet.com has launched a new job board at www.thomasnetjobs.com, an employment and career-building website that focuses on four key areas of industry: engineering, procurement, manufacturing/production operations, and sales/marketing. Entry-level job seekers and professionals can go there to apply for manufacturing positions posted by employers across North America. Conversely, CEOs/general managers, human resources professionals, and recruiters can build a pool of candidates who meet detailed, technologically specific job requirements.