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Strategies to Engage Your Manufacturing Workforce

Manufacturers are struggling with a growing skills gap. Over the coming decade, the industry could see as many as two million jobs could emerge that can’t be filled by the current labor pool.

In the face of such challenges, it’s become more important than ever to improve employee retention in the manufacturing industry. Fortunately, recent approaches in talent recruitment could help manufacturers find the workers they need to ensure their continued success.

How to Attract Manufacturing Talent

Many younger workers mistakenly regard manufacturing as a field for the unskilled or uneducated. Dispelling these opinions is a necessary step in lessening the growing skills gap. The following measures can help you educate prospective employees about your company while giving you an opportunity to discover young talent that will add value throughout your company.

  • Attend local job fairs

Meeting and talking with young professionals can generate leads, raise awareness of the benefits of a career in manufacturing, and introduce possible candidates to your company’s current opportunities.

  • Host open houses

By opening up your facilities to prospective employees, you can expose them to your operations, working environment, and company culture, as well as the types of benefits and compensation you provide. Transparent hiring processes always leads to increased retention in the future.

  • Partner with local schools at all levels, including trade schools and public schools

Partnering with schools will undoubtedly attract more talent to your company. Trade schools in particular might prepare their students for your specific work, which only simplifies onboarding for your company.

Improving Employee Retention in Manufacturing

Since it’s more expensive to assemble a team of trained workers than it is to keep current employees, a high retention rate can make all the difference between success and failure. The following steps can help you minimize turnover throughout your company.

  • Work Community

Host BBQs and other seasonal events to promote team building. When employees feel as though they belong, their jobs will matter more to them.

  • Fun with Competitions

Create competitions between staff and families to get everyone involved. When an employee’s family likes their employer, you’re much more likely to keep him or her for the long term.

  • Giveaways

Give prizes to celebrate achieved goals or significant milestones. This not only raises productivity, but it promotes competition and boosts the moral of the company.

  • Competitive pay, training opportunities, and benefits

Continued learning through training can stimulate employees and keep them connected to your company. Similarly, competitive pay and good benefits only lowers the risk of turnover.

Consistency is essential to manufacturing, but in order to achieve it, manufacturers require an experienced workforce with the training and preparation needed to operate complex industrial equipment. An engaged team and a modern recruiting strategy can help you ensure that your company is never understaffed.

At Pentaflex, we constantly work to improve our company to better meet the needs of our clients and employees alike. As the manufacturing period approaches a period of transition, we’re doing whatever we can to reward our current employees and persuade the next generation of American workers that a career in manufacturing might be the most rewarding path they can take. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of working with an engaged manufacturing company, contact us today.

 

Slowdown Coming for the Trucking and Rail Industry

With low fuel costs, you would think the transportation industry would be seeing big gains. But, unfortunately, the opposite is true as a slowing economy and lower freight volumes lead to more trucks and railcars being available.

The trucking industry is responding by reducing workers. ABF Freight Systems recently reduced its workforce by 4% because of the slow economic environment. The predictions for 2016 were optimistically cautious a few months ago but have turned to outright caution even though trucking executives generally expect a stronger second half of the year. But, their outlook for this year is described as uncertain.

The slowdown in freight volume leads to shippers having an easier time finding trucks to hire. This puts them in the driver’s seat to negotiate for better terms. It is still unclear at this time the exact factors that are causing the drop in freight volume. Possibly reasons include excessive inventories, a manufacturing slowdown, reduced demand from the energy sector, or lagging retail sales of winter clothing and equipment due to the warmest December on record.

Workforce reduction isn’t the only belt-tightening measure for the shipping and transportation industry. In response to the lagging economy, new truck builds are being reduced. Truck users may be replacing older models with newer ones but are not buying new trucks outright. Orders are down and layoffs might be coming for OEMs.

The impact of the economy on the trucking industry doesn’t hurt us as greatly as it would other OEMs. The commercial truck components we manufacturer are just one of the many components in our portfolio. Diversification across a wide range of industries and strong capabilities enable us to maintain a solid manufacturing base in uncertain times.

Is There Such a Thing as Blue Collar/White Collar Anymore?

In the heyday of manufacturing, there was a distinction between line workers and office workers. The blue collars were generally high school graduates who excelled at their jobs and retired with good pensions. The managerial teams were mostly made up of those college graduates who majored in business.  In the last 30 years or so, many things have changed and the manufacturing model of the past is, well, the past. Today’s manufacturing environment is evolving beyond colors and is ready to be reinvigorated.

Have you heard of STEM?

The Obama administration’s Educate to Innovate campaign aims to increase our children’s math and science achievements. Education leaders realized that our students were weak in areas that would lead to higher-paying, more rewarding jobs in technology fields. In order to strengthen manufacturing and industry in the U.S., STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education programs were developed to address this need.

Districts across the country are starting STEM schools and programs to focus on, and foster, a love of the sciences at the elementary levels. STEM is an extension of a child’s natural curiosity and having teachers who embrace the sciences should encourage the next generation to pursue careers in technological fields. And, many colleges are starting programs that are designed specifically for specialized technology fields like manufacturing. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, STEM plays a role in the 10 fastest growing occupations.

Can STEM make a difference?

We are already feeling the pinch of labor shortages in the manufacturing industry. There are jobs going unfilled because candidates don’t possess the skills or have the right training. The STEM educational goals should benefit manufacturing directly. STEM concepts are what manufacturing is about: problem solving, exploring concepts and ideas, turning ideas into realities, and making something work. It is the basis of invention and ingenuity that we haven’t truly fostered in our children in decades.

Americans may not currently rank on top in terms of math and science achievements compared to kids in Asia and Europe but we are still free thinkers who can get out of that proverbial box.  Manufacturing today requires computer skills for running automations systems and mechanical skills to create innovative and pioneering machinery. The time is right to make manufacturing a skill set that will lead to worthwhile jobs and STEM education is a great first step.