The manufacturing industry is booming, so say the statistics. It’s at its highest point since 1995, having added 327,000 new jobs in 2017 and having produced $6 trillion in gross output.

These jobs are being created on the heels of rapid technological advances in the fields of robotics, augmented reality (AR), 3D printing, laser scanning, and Blockchain. Plus, a retiring baby boomer generation will lead to a labor gap over the next decade that will see an estimated two million manufacturing jobs go unfilled.

So why are manufacturers having such a hard time appealing to young talent and filling these jobs? After all, according to findings by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, 52% of U.S. teens have little or no interest in a manufacturing career. And millennials are just about as ambivalent. This is a serious problem that the manufacturing industry needs to solve by investing in recruitment marketing now.

To do this, marketers need to look at the root cause of the malaise and disinterest of the younger workforce. The issue is one of image, engagement, and messaging.

The industry is not perceived as “cool” like the tech companies. And if today’s manufacturers want to have any shot of reversing this stagnation and disinterest, then the solution lies in the marketing.

Attracting and retaining new talent in this day and age depends as much on marketing as sales do to move the actual products.

To this end, we list some recruitment strategies all manufacturers should implement in order to attract top talent and appeal to a dynamic 21st century workforce.

Revitalize your brand

If millennials aren’t flocking to your company, then the first thing you need to do is re-brand yourself. As mentioned above, this isn’t your grandfather’s manufacturing industry—technological advances have made it if not as exciting as the tech sector, then at least comparable to it. So play that up.

There’s also no reason you can’t offer some of those perks that the trendy Silicon Valley companies are using to entice today’s workforce. That includes flexible working hours, as millennials aren’t as eager to adhere to a 9-5 office grind as generations past.

Therefore, if your job allows new-hires to work hours that allow them to avoid rush-hour drive times, or even work some days from home, then they’ll be lining up to work for you.

Other perks include offering more holiday time, shouldering some of new-hires’ student-loan debt, adding a game room, providing on-site health and well-being support, extended maternity leave, and implementing robust training, team-building, and career-development programs.

But one key incentive that will pay dividends for any manufacturing business is holding company events. Bringing the workforce together in an informal setting not only promotes bonding and a sense of fellowship, but it’s also a great recruiting tool if the employees are snapping photos at these events and sharing them on social media. For example, tech giants like Microsoft and Apple, throw summer BBQs and/or the occasional music concert.

Go where your potential workforce is

After revitalizing your brand it’s time to reach out and (more importantly), stay in touch with your potential workforce. That means meeting them where they are, and where they are is on social media.

Just as marketers appeal to potential customers via social media channels, they need to apply the same strategy with recruitment. Consider that a recent survey by employment site Glassdoor found that 79% of job seekers use social media for this purpose.

Of course, different social media sites appeal to different folks in different ways. For these reasons the type of worker you’re searching for will be more active on certain sites than others.

Consider for the moment that according to statistics, millennials gravitate towards video content. A majority of them even watch more video content on social media than on television.

Source

This is one reason that YouTube has grown to become the second most popular search engine in the world after Google. But it isn’t just YouTube; Instagram Stories is rising in popularity as well.

Manufacturers need to go all in on these platforms for their recruitment marketing efforts by creating YouTube channels and updating it with content. You can get ideas for recruiting content by perusing this list of brands, including GE, who put together winning recruitment videos.

Now, many of the brands on that list are consumer-facing, but that’s just the point: manufacturers need to take a page from the B2C book and appeal to young workers in that way.

In other words, you need to make manufacturing cool. One idea is to produce a recruitment video featuring testimonials from employees in the same age demographic as your target audience.

Other places you can find your ideal workforce include job fairs and industry trade shows.

Maintain a presence at these events and show off your revitalized brand. Make connections and build an email list. Keep those contacts interested (but don’t spam them) with blast campaigns showcasing new initiatives in your sector. In other words, keep them always wanting to know more about your company.

Educate future talent

As cited from the link above, a labor shortage in manufacturing has been predicted over the next 10 years. A significant reason for this is that there’s a limited supply of STEM-educated students joining the manufacturing workforce.

To combat this very real problem many manufactures are committing themselves to educational outreach. This serves two purposes: to make the younger generations aware of the industry in question, and to build a future workforce.

Many manufacturers are developing some pretty comprehensive outreach initiatives, too. These include sponsoring student-based leadership programs in the public school system; creating volunteer, entrepreneurship, and grant programs; sponsoring academic teams for scholastic competition; offering students interactive tours of company facilities; demonstrating products at student gatherings; funding student industrial design projects; and more.

Conclusion

Finally, it is mission critical for industrial recruiters to think more like marketers and to change the negative stereotype of factory jobs by countering the false narrative with an inspirational campaign about the career prospects opened up by automation technologies.

Feel free to reach out to us at Elevation B2B, and we will happily tell you more about how to set your organization apart from the rest.

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Manufacturing Marketing Best Practices for 2019

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