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The driving force behind any manufacturing company’s success is its workforce. Even as automation transforms the industry, highly skilled workers remain in high demand. In order for your manufacturing company to grow, you need talent with the skills and determination to make a difference.

Though the evolving manufacturing landscape has brought many positive changes to the industry, it has also created new problems for human resources. From recruiting difficulties to skills deficits, HR professionals in the manufacturing industry have much to contend with. To ensure continued growth, you need to address these problems and build a stronger workforce. Here are several common HR challenges you may face in the manufacturing industry and tips you can use to overcome them.

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Locating the Right Workers for the Job | Maintaining Relevant Worker Skill Sets | Retaining Highly Skilled Workers | Replacing an Aging Workforce | Building a Stronger Workforce With MANTEC

Locating the Right Workers for the Job

In March 2019, there were 476,000 job openings in manufacturing. Though new job openings indicate promising growth in the industry, many positions remain unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants. As industry demand calls for more skilled manufacturing professionals, it’s becoming harder for companies to find the workers they need.

There are three main reasons for current recruiting difficulties:

  1. A lack of awareness surrounding open positions
  2. A lack of skilled candidates
  3. A lack of public interest in manufacturing careers

To fill open positions and get productivity back on track, HR professionals need to determine which of these factors are contributing to recruiting difficulties and target them strategically.

If you’re struggling to find qualified applicants for your open positions, you might consider using a recruiting service to raise awareness, starting an apprenticeship program to prepare younger workers for success or offering more appealing benefits and advancement opportunities to attract the ideal candidates.

Maintaining Relevant Worker Skill Sets

Another problem HR professionals notice is a skills deficit in current employees. As the manufacturing industry changes, some employees find that they lack the skills needed to adapt to new roles. When workers lack the advanced skills they need, they struggle to keep productivity up and may eventually be forced out of the industry.

To remain competitive and retain your most loyal workers, you need to invest in employee training and development, especially if you see employees struggling with new technology or procedures in the workplace. Training can give workers the skills they need to work more efficiently as well as increase their engagement and job satisfaction. You can conduct training internally or call on an experienced third party like MANTEC for assistance.

Retaining Highly Skilled Workers

Competition is strong in the manufacturing industry, which means companies are constantly struggling to retain their best workers. Today, a high salary alone isn’t enough to retain top talent. To reduce attrition, your HR department may need to try new strategies.

Start by consulting your current employees. Find out what they like best about their jobs and what could be improved. To get honest feedback, distribute an anonymous survey or make it clear that answers will have no bearing on an employee’s standing within your company.

Once you know what your best workers want, take action. Increase employee engagement by creating a positive company culture and offering chances for meaningful promotion, and make positions more rewarding for the most serious workers by offering strong benefits packages and flexible hours in addition to high compensation.

Replacing an Aging Workforce

The manufacturing industry is starting to see the effects of an aging workforce on retention and productivity. The median age of manufacturing workers was 44.1 in 2018, about two years older than the general employed population. Though two years may seem like a small difference, the higher age combined with a lack of public interest in manufacturing means that many companies are already struggling to find replacements for retiring staff.

To combat the challenges associated with an aging workforce, manufacturing HR departments need to attract more young people to the industry. Potential solutions may include partnering with high schools and colleges to provide vocational training and focusing on sometimes overlooked demographics, including women, veterans and recent university graduates.

Building a Stronger Workforce With MANTEC

HR professionals have many challenges to face in the manufacturing industry, but you don’t have to face them alone. At MANTEC, our manufacturing industry experts offer a number of workforce development services, including training and strategic planning, to assist manufacturing businesses in South Central Pennsylvania. As a nonprofit consulting firm, we offer a high return on investment and long-term support.

If you’re ready to overcome HR challenges and build a stronger workforce at your company, reach out to us today and learn how we could help.

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