With baby boomers retiring from the workforce, the Manufacturing Institute estimates that as many as 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled by 2025. The future of this vital industry depends on millennials–those born between 1981 and 1997, who now make up the largest generation. Unfortunately, many millennials don’t see manufacturing as an option.
The good news is that this can change, if manufacturers make a concerted effort to make the industry attractive to this driven, connected, technology-savvy and socially conscious generation.
These seven tips can help you do just that:
- Use technology to change public perception
Many millennials labor under the misconception that manufacturing jobs involve tedious, low-paying grunt work. It is vital to change this perception and rebrand the industry as what it is–dynamic, innovative and driven by cutting-edge technology. The best way to do this is through technology itself. Use social media platforms, videos, virtual reality and other tools to demonstrate that today’s factory is not the one their grandfather–or even their father–worked at.
- Show them the job
While you’re at it, try adding videos to your job postings. Show what the job entails, the technology involved, and what the company culture is like. Make them interesting, informative and short–no longer than 3 minutes. Run similar videos at job fairs.
- Promote education and training
Millennials want to develop skills in their jobs, so provide ample learning opportunities. Invest in internships, apprenticeships, certification programs and continuing education, both in a classroom and online. Start a mentoring program or speaker series for young professionals.
- Integrate mobile technology into the workplace
Your workplace may use robotics, virtual reality, 3D printing and other innovative tools, but are you asking employees to stay off their mobile devices during the day? Don’t. It won’t work, and it could drive them away. Instead, take advantage of the fact that millennials like to stay connected and use cellphones to help foster quick communication between employees and managers.
- Provide frequent feedback/communication
Millennials value one-on-one communication and are accustomed to receiving instant and continuous feedback on social media. An annual review is not the best way to nurture these employees. Schedule more one-on-one meetings, and provide as much real-time, specific feedback as possible. Maintaining that connection will do wonders for the millennial’s professional development.
- Create an environment that provides for advancement and growth
Millennials aspire to be leaders. Keeping them in your employ means having a work structure that allows for advancement and growth. Allow them to pitch ideas and let them know you are open to change. You may want to take advantage of their savvy by putting them in charge of finding new technology solutions or training others in how to use them.
- Build a corporate culture that reflects millennial values
Many younger workers are open to taking a job because of how it makes them feel rather than how much it pays. Remember that millennials are social, and socially aware, and they want a workplace that reflects their values. Provide opportunity for them to interact with their co-workers, including meetups, off-site retreats, and volunteer days in which the whole team works for a charitable cause. Survey the team often to find out what is important to them. Let millennials know what you are doing with regard to sustainability, fair trade or other issues of concern.