Manufacturers have been facing challenges in finding skilled workers to fill positions in their factories. The problem lies in the aging workforce and the difficulty in recruiting younger talent to replace those who are retiring. The traditional route of obtaining a college degree has not lived up to its promise of providing well-paying jobs, often leaving graduates with significant student debt and limited job prospects.
In contrast, the trades and manufacturing sectors offer an alternative path for individuals to receive training and begin earning a good salary immediately, without the burden of college debt. Many young people are surprised to discover that modern manufacturing plants are well-maintained, technologically advanced, and offer a range of career opportunities involving computers and robotics.
Some of the job roles that may appeal to the younger generation in manufacturing include industrial engineers, robotics engineers, production technicians, and programmers. Industrial engineers use artificial intelligence to rethink shop floor layouts, while robotic engineers design, program, train, test, and maintain robotics systems. Production technicians ensure smooth operations on the shop floor and make real-time adjustments to optimize production. Programmers play a crucial role in instructing machines on what to do and how to do it.
To attract younger talent, manufacturers must take proactive steps, such as starting early by organizing plant tours for students and their parents. These tours can dispel preconceptions about manufacturing facilities and showcase the modern and attractive work environments. Building relationships with guidance counselors is another way to reach students who show an interest and aptitude for making things and working on computer projects. Mentoring programs and partnerships with schools can provide valuable work experience and expose students to the rewarding careers available in manufacturing.
Manufacturing associations, like the Greater Chicago Advanced Manufacturing Partnership and the Technology and Manufacturing Association’s Education Department, are actively involved in addressing the skills gap by providing education, training, and certification opportunities for young people. By collaborating with schools, parents, and students, the manufacturing community is working to build a bright and skilled workforce for the future.
Source: Denice Gierach, Gierach Law Firm