The skills gap in manufacturing has affected hiring and retention across the industry for a few years now.

Anyone who has looked to hire people into organizations can tell you that it’s been no small or easy feat to fill jobs the last few years. There is added pressure to find talent so that the retiring workforce of Boomers are replaced. The problem is: the incoming talent in Millennials and Gen Z don’t necessarily have the same skill set. 

This skills gap can cause businesses to lose more than just workers – businesses can lose institutional knowledge, lose revenue, their customer service can suffer, overall business growth can be stunted, and employees can become unhappy without seasoned and skilled employees to help and mentor them. 

woman smiling at a machine motherboard in a well lit warehouse

So what can businesses do to help close this skills gap and bring in, train, and retain the right talent to fill the jobs that Boomers are leaving? 

First, determine what skills gap you currently have.

Look at who has left the workforce and who will be leaving your workforce soon to see where your skills gap is. What roles did they fill? What knowledge did or do they have that needs to be captured, taught, or re-created? 

Also take a look at where there are areas that you are missing skilled talent right now that are preventing you from reaching your ideal state of business. Where are the new and emerging trends that require a skilled workforce?

Work with HR or a reputable partner to determine what roles and skills you are looking to hire candidates for. This can not only keep you aware of people to fill those roles, but also for up-skilling and re-skilling your current staff to fill those demands. Don’t always think you need to hire new people! 

two men discussing something on a laptop in a warehouse

Second, find ways to capture your institutional knowledge so it can be used to train new people.

Each organization has knowledge that is not written down or documented in some way. There are employees who have been working for decades that know specific skills in relation to their job, workflows, machines, and more that will be lost when they leave – unless you capture that information! 

All Boomers will reach retirement age around 2030, so don’t wait to find out what they know – they could retire and take that information with them! Partnering the older workforce with the younger workforce can create mentor programs and allow a younger generation to work on creative ways to capture this information. Millennials and Gen Z are very tech-savvy – so consider having the younger generation spearhead a video series, webinars, or podcasts to collect that valuable information. 

african american man smiling with a machine in the background inside a manufacturing facility

Third, attract new talent by looking for specific skills and outlining them in job postings. 

Attracting the right talent means having a clear understanding of what you need and then putting that information in your job postings. Job postings should have the right information in them so that both you and the job seeker know the skills and requirements – this saves headache later on. 

Take this time and opportunity to also talk about how great of a career manufacturing is. Manufacturing careers have gotten a bad reputation lately. Many times, Millennials and Gen Z don’t think about working in manufacturing! Manufacturing is high-tech, fast-paced, well-paid, and never boring – and the next generation of talent should know that. 

Fourth, start or strengthen your relationships with partners that can help.

Educational institutions, trade schools, and vocational schools can be great sources of talent for manufacturing companies. Not only does this give you access to new and emerging talent in your area it also allows you to partner with instructors to provide feedback on what skills your area and industry needs so the attendees are getting what they need out of these programs. Without input, there could be a lack of understanding of the needs of businesses and cause talent that graduates from these programs to seek employment elsewhere – which is not good! 

Collaboration, feedback, and partnerships with places like this can open up opportunities for you to allow hands-on training in your facilities – giving you extra talent while showing them why your organization is a great place to work when they graduate! 

You can also partner with other organizations, like reputable staffing and recruiting agencies. Agencies with a holistic approach to hiring, who want to understand your business needs, and who have been working in the manufacturing industry for a long time can help you with finding talent that you may not have had access to otherwise. 

woman in a manufacturing facility with wires in her hands

Fifth, don’t forget your current workforce! 

Don’t underestimate what happens when you re-skill and up-skill your current workforce. Not only do you gain skilled workers in your facilities, but you also invest in your people so they feel valued and empowered! It demonstrates a commitment to your employees, and promotes a positive work environment for everyone. 

Filling those hard-to-fill skilled roles with people who have already proven their dedication is a smart move for any size manufacturing company. 

If you need some more (or outside) resources to up-skill and re-skill your current workforce, consider ways that you can support your team while they acquire these skills. Tuition assistance, internships, co-ops, and apprenticeships are all ways you can provide paths for your employees to learn new and exciting skills that benefit them and you! 

Know there are staffing experts out there, ready to help. 

Working with a staffing partner to help you find your next role is easier than you think. Especially one that’s been placing candidates for 20 years. 

At GTR, we are extremely proud of the work we’ve done in communities to place qualified candidates with businesses that have open jobs. We love the feeling we get when we successfully place and are working to make our local communities better places to live, play, and work.

Contact us today if you are looking for a staffing agency to help you find open jobs in your market. We are here to help.