Manufacturing isn't the only industry struggling with finding enough skilled employees. Many industries, from trucking to retail and construction, are struggling with similar issues.
So, how do you fill the pipeline of tomorrow and beyond with a skilled and talented workforce to ensure your business can grow? Here are five things you as a manufacturer can do to increase the public’s interest in your company.
Reach out to local elementary, middle, and high schools. Introduce yourself and explain your business. Make them aware of your industry and the great career opportunities you have available. Once you are connected, request to speak to classes to tell them about your manufacturing business. Share with them how you become an owner or manager and what your company does. Explain why you love to go to work every day. Kids love to hear about new things. Tailor the conversation to the age group, and make sure it isn't too complicated.
Ask if you can help the school by providing resources (e.g., machines, tools, equipment, cash, sponsorship). If you want to highlight your business, this is your chance. Step up and become a true leader who is involved with potential future employees at every level. You could also ask to be a speaker on career day or offer to mentor or volunteer in other ways.
Connect with state or local governments and ask how your company can become part of an apprenticeship program. Many tech colleges, chambers of commerce, state workforce development departments, and industry associations have contact people who can help or point you in the right direction. Check out these websites:
There are over 2,000 recognized apprenticeships available and many could fit your business. In addition to traditional apprenticeship programs, there are youth apprenticeships, school-to-work programs, and much more.
Create an in-house OTJ training program. On-the-job (OTJ) training programs are a way to provided needed skills for very specific tasks or jobs. Meet with your staff to identify areas of opportunity and develop a solid and detailed training program. Schools may require that you have a person available to oversee and administer the training. However, one person can often work with multiple people. Make sure the work environment and areas are safe.
Change the public’s perception of your business or industry. Many people mistakenly think manufacturing is dirty, has long hours, and is boring. If that is the public’s perception, why would anyone encourage their child to look for a career in the industry? You can help change the public's view of manufacturing and your company by getting involved with your community educational system. Hold open houses and make video clips of your company to post on your website or to show during your presentations in schools. Donate idle or unused equipment to technical colleges or schools. Reach out to your local VFW or other veterans’ organization. You might be surprised by the skills and knowledge you can find there.
These are five simple and relatively easy actions you can take, but there are many more ways a business leader can promote their company and the industry. Be creative and get involved. It might take a few weeks or months before you gain traction or start seeing results, but remember that your business didn’t become the operation it is overnight. All good things take time, will, and a plan. What are you waiting for?