Today, a hiring “perfect storm” confronts the manufacturing sector. The booming U.S. economy has generated hundreds
thousands of new manufacturing positions that must be filled. Yet, for a variety of reasons, it’s tougher than ever for manufacturers to locate qualified workers.
In 2018, the U.S. economy added 264,00
0 new jobs in manufacturing. That brought the total number of manufacturing jobs in the country to 12.84 million. It was the eighth straight year that the number of manufacturing jobs increased. This string followed a streak of 12 years of decreasing job numbers.
Unfortunately for the nation's manufacturing companies, finding qualified workers to fill those positions has proven exceptionally difficult. One individual who understands that better than most is Steven Pagliuzza, who reports “there is a crying need for well-trained employees” in manufacturing.
The president and CEO of Addison, Ill.-based Dial Tool Industries, Pagliuzza struggles to staff his plant with qualified, experienced employees. The task is not easy, he says. He must strive mightily and display ingenuity to add skilled workers to the payroll.
“In this job market, I can’t imagine why any tool and die maker or mold maker would not be able to find a job,” he says.
Several factors account for the shortage in qualified manufacturing workers. First, the huge Baby Boomer cohort reaching retirement age has started to leave the workforce. Manufacturing workers are among those Boomers retiring.
Second, though the manufacturing industry has savored growth it hadn’t witnessed in decades, there’s been no corresponding surge in numbers of young people entering the field, nor training programs equipped to train them.
A compelling reason for the shortfalls: The dozen years of declining manufacturing jobs mentioned above. “Around the turn of the century, high schools had to cut back on shop programs,” Pagliuzza says. “Precision machining, wood working, electrical, they all had to be cut because no one was signing up for them, and programs are expensive. You actually must have the equipment in the room to be able to train the students.”
Secrets to hiring
Pagliuzza has identified two keys to staff in tight labor markets. Adopting apprentice and training programs that continually turn out skilled workers represents one.
Dial Tool Industries' apprentice program features five years of on-the-job paid training, along with three concurrent years of classroom training through the Technology and Manufacturing Association, TMA. “We like to keep two apprentices in our facility, one just starting out and the other just finishing up,” Pagliuzza says. “We also have two-year training programs in molding and punch press set-up.”
Apprentices and trainees are recruited from area high schools, as well as local community colleges. “Some students do not want to go to college,” Pagliuzza says.
“They're better off in an apprentice program. We train them right here on the job. If they want to learn, we have the facilities and resources to train them.”
Recruiting from within exists as a second strategy, one Dial Tool Industries invariably attempts to employ, Pagliuzza says. “We have people come in to the company in another area, and then say, 'I'd like to learn to work the punch press,'” he reports.
“And we'll train them on that. We like to recruit from within – all companies do – because we know the people we're recruiting, and they of course know our processes.”
Additional hiring tips
Leverage strong social media networks. If seeking younger workers with years to give your company, social media channels have emerged as a natural choice. LinkedIn and Facebook feature groups focused entirely on the manufacturing sector. Developing a strong social media network of brand evangelists can help attract would-be recruits.
Make applying easy. Savvy manufacturers ensure the hiring process remains as easy and streamlined as possible. That means making applying as simple as picking up a smart phone or tablet to apply online.
Invest in employees. Creating employee development programs and maintaining competitive pay and benefits packages attract capable candidates to your company.
Hiring qualified workers in the manufacturing sector has never been more daunting. But Pagliuzza and others have shown with the right strategies, it can be done.
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