Bridging Manufacturing’s Demographic Divide

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Written by: Steve Melito, Industry Blog Writer for FuzeHub

A younger worker makes a part
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Business Week recently reported that the average age of a U.S. manufacturing worker is 56. As Anna Wells explains in Industrial Maintenance and Plant Operation (IMPO) magazine, a potential shortage of skilled workers isn’t the only concern.  “How do the youngest crop of workers,” she asks, “best learn from their more seasoned counterparts?”
According to some estimates, the Gen X group of Americans born between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s is only two-thirds the size of the Baby Boomer generation that’s nearing retirement. If the number of manufacturing jobs remains steady or grows, manufacturers may need to hire more members of Gen Y, the so-called “Millenials” born after Gen X.
Advances in automation could eliminate some manufacturing jobs, but reshoring is bringing jobs back home. These aren’t your father’s (or your mother’s) factories, however. The manufacturing workers of today (and tomorrow) need education and training, but not everything can be learned in a classroom. That’s why Anna Wells’ point about knowledge transfer is so important.
For Wells, who also writes regularly for Manufacturing.Net, the solution is part technological and part cultural. As older workers adopt new maintenance technologies such as apps on smart phones, they can connect with their younger, tech-savvy peers. Yet it’s also important for more senior employees to provide face-to-face coaching, and for companies to understand – and accept – differences in employee attitudes.
At Grainger, for example, younger employees who want to work in the heart of a city can choose the Chicago “tech hub” over the Lake Forest headquarters. Not all companies have multiple locations, however, and some small-to-medium manufacturers may find that employees don’t have many members of their own age group to connect with. As a manufacturer, are you ready to face and embrace these challenges?
Read Original Story: The Generational Divide
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