According to a recent survey, there was a quantifiable uptick in Gen Z’s perception of manufacturing, revealing that of the 1,000 surveyed, 56% said their views on manufacturing changed because of the pandemic, with 77% reporting they view manufacturing as more important. The survey also showed that 54% of respondents said they had not considered a job in frontline manufacturing prior to the pandemic, but 24% are now open to the idea.
The majority (52%) still remain disinterested or neutral in frontline manufacturing work; of those, 30% are concerned it might be a “low-skilled, manual job.”
Smarter technology in manufacturing
We currently live in an age where technology in the manufacturing world is changing at rates that it never has before. Matt Kirchner, president of LAB midwest, a leading distributor of curriculum, eLearning, and hands-on training equipment for advanced manufacturing, recently shared the biggest automation need for Ashley Furniture, the largest furniture manufacturer of the world’s. The top tier competencies when hiring new team member, according to him – whether from a technical college or from a university – is understanding not just the component technologies, but how to integrate a robot with a conveyor with smart sensors and smart devices; how to integrate a robot-loaded machining center into a manufacturing operation; how to connect these systems to work together in concert; and then communicate with a computer network so that they can use that data in real time.
As we face the mass exodus of the silver tsunami in manufacturing, whose job descriptions bore nary a robot-loaded, smart anything, it’s fair to say that the future of our couches, cars, and cancer treatments now lie in the next generation’s hands.
Talent recruitment is still a challenge
Here’s the good news: Gen Z loves technology, robots, and smart devices. They also love companies with purpose. Even better news? Advanced manufacturing categorically checks all of these boxes.
So why the aforementioned ‘meh’ from 52% of your future talent pipeline?
1. Lack of understanding. Unfortunately, the industry hasn’t fully explained the dynamic, technology-driven environment of the modern plant floor, according to President and CEO of L2L, Keith Barr.
2. Lack of support. According to a survey, 75% of Americans have never had a counselor, teacher or mentor suggest they look into attending trade or vocational school as a means to a viable career.
3. Lack of exposure. Current industry recruitment efforts are difficult to scale. The National Association of Manufacturers recently took their recruitment show on the road as part of their Creators Wanted initiative, during which kids were invited to experience firsthand the innovation and opportunity behind some of manufacturing’s biggest players, but only about 20 kids at a time, one city at a time.
A new way to attract Gen Z
If you’re selling them a future in technology (you are), you need to use technology. According to techjury, American teens spend an average of 9 hours a day in front of screens, and more than 7 of those are spent on mobile phones. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for the manufacturing industry to consider leveraging this medium to scale its outreach efforts in order to capitalize on Gen Z’s unique skills and interests – no matter where they are. By transforming career awareness, training pathways, and job opportunities into engaging mobile technology, states, industry, and education can revolutionize how the next generation engages in – and views – skills-based careers at an earlier age.
What is your biggest challenge in filling your talent pipeline?