The Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute 2022 Manufacturing Perception Study that was released in 2022 cites that 64% of consumers surveyed view manufacturing careers as innovative and problem-solving oriented, up from 39% of respondents in the 2017 study. Also in the study, 40% of respondents said they would encourage their child or another young person to pursue a career in manufacturing, up from 27% in 2017.

When the pandemic hit, the manufacturing sector was pushed into the spotlight, as this was the industry that responded by producing PPE, ventilators, creating a vaccine, putting food on the table, and manufacturing other essential goods and equipment. The rapid response from the industry led 61% of those surveyed to say that their perception of the sector had improved.

With strong positive perceptions of the manufacturing industry and central to the world’s economy, one might conclude that the industry is seeing a strong workforce push. However, 83% of manufacturers report that attracting and retaining workers is still a top focus. So what are employers doing or should be doing to attract new talent to the industry? Here are 5 tips to help build a talent pipeline for manufacturing:

1) Stress Technology
For attracting talent, the study said 18 to 24-year-olds are much more likely to consider career changes than other age cohorts, so manufacturers should emphasize recruiting and retaining young people that may be looking for something different. Therefore, it is imperative that the use of technology is stressed when describing manufacturing roles. The younger generations grew up with and are very comfortable with technology and expect their jobs to involve working with technology. Educating potential employees on the innovation factor and how robotics and artificial intelligence can make jobs safer and enable employees to do more productive work is essential.

As a manufacturer for many decades, Chief has made a strategic decision to invest in our technology and automation to ensure we are providing the most efficient and effective tools for our team. Our team at Chief Fabrication invested in new fiber lasers as well as a storage rack to improve material handling and production sequences. Chief Agri is getting ready to install a new side wall machine this summer which will increase their output by six times compared to what they are producing today. They are also looking to make another large investment in their equipment at the beginning of 2023.

These innovative upgrades can be seen throughout all of our divisions from purchasing new trucks at Chief Carriers, to a new boiler at Chief Ethanol, to new construction equipment and trailers at Construction, to a new manufacturing plant for Buildings and the list goes on. Chief will continue to make technology upgrades and investments to ensure our safety standards are uncompromised and efficiency is optimized.

2) Build on It’s a Career, Not Simply a Job
There is a misperception among recent college graduates, who typically do not realize that a manufacturing career would offer them an opportunity to use their skills and build a career path. It is critical for the industry to build programs that foster an inclusive environment in the workplace that facilitates mentorships. Connecting and networking senior leaders with more junior colleagues allows for a flow and transfer of institutional knowledge. It is important to increase visibility regarding career path options and empower managers to schedule career conversations with direct reports.

With tenures that go beyond 20, 30, or 40 years, Chief has numerous employees who have built their careers here. These careers span across our family of brands and include strong bonds that go beyond the work place. Check out our videos of our employees telling their stories in the “My Job In 60 Seconds” videos:

3) Provide Hands-on Opportunities
Making a career switch without understanding the industry or role might be a barrier to entry for most people. However, the manufacturing industry is one that can offer hands-on opportunities that can deliver greater results than digital or media interaction. Internships and apprenticeship programs are effective ways for young adults or those looking to “try before they buy” to get a clear understanding of the ins and outs of the role.

Chief Building lives this mission to provide hands-on opportunities for their team members. Their team hosts a class for individuals interested in drafting. These individuals have the opportunity to lean more about this industry, without paying a cent. They are able to learn the in’s and out’s of our industry and this role specifically, providing them a hands-on opportunity to understand if this role is for them.

Chief often provides plant tours to invite potential candidates and the community to come and safely get a first-hand look at how we manufacture our products. For those who want a more in-depth, day-to-day look at our operations, Chief partners with various educational institutions to offer apprenticeships and internships. Chief recognizes that there is talent in each individual, we just have to help them identify where they can utilize and apply their talent in the most effective way.

4) Provide Competitive Salaries and Benefits
Salaries and benefits in manufacturing are competitive with those offered in retail and the service industries. The manufacturing industry on average offers a salary that is at least 27% more than those in retail and the service industry. Manufacturing jobs also tend to offer better healthcare and retirement than other industries.

5) Promote Overall Employee Wellness
Many companies expanded their wellness programs in 2022, based on the wake of the pandemic. Organizations increased their employee benefits by expanding support for mental health benefits, physical well-being, and financial well-being. When employees utilize the programs, Gartner analysis found that 23% of employees show higher levels of mental health, 17% higher levels of physical health, and 23% more likely to get better sleep at night. These improvements in personal outcomes translate to higher levels of performance and retention on the job. The overall wellness of employees has always been a top priority at Chief. As an employee, not only is your physical health a priority, but so is each and every person’s mental health. The company offers a complimentary Employee Assistance Program that provides confidential counseling or coaching to help identify and resolve issues that may be affecting an individual at home or at work. The health of the whole person is a focus that Chief places significant value on.

Despite the much-touted rise of the service industry, manufacturing remains central to the world economy. Over the last two years, there has been a heightened awareness of the essential role of manufacturing, and a new wave of workers is needed to further advance our use of technology. Manufacturers will have to continue to work hard to fill open job opportunities and connect more people with rewarding careers. Now is the time to invest in the future, through both talent and technology!