When Image Is Everything: Closing the Manufacturing Skill Gap

By Laura Dowling, SPHR on Jun 01, 2023
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Outdated. Monotonous. Little opportunity for growth. These are words a Gen Z or Millennial might use to describe jobs in the manufacturing industry. Despite the fact that manufacturing has always been a crucial part of the economy, the industry has experienced a decline in recruitment due to the misconceptions and outdated perceptions younger generations have surrounding factory work. 

These factory fallacies not only hinder the ability of businesses to attract skilled candidates but also perpetuate an undeserved negative reputation for an industry that has undergone significant technological advancements and transformation. Without recruitment changes, the manufacturing skills gap could result in 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2030

To address this issue head-on, business owners in the manufacturing industry must take proactive steps to debunk these factory fallacies and showcase the opportunities and benefits that come with a career in modern manufacturing.

Let’s dive into the top myths surrounding factory jobs and steps that you, as a manufacturing business owner, can take to break free from factory fallacies and recruit a team poised for success in today’s manufacturing industry.

mental health in manufacturing

Top Myths Surrounding Factory Jobs 

Fallacy 1: Manufacturing Jobs Are Low-Skilled and Unfulfilling

This is one of the most common misconceptions about factory jobs. In reality, manufacturing jobs not only require a great deal of skill and training but also offer workers opportunities for growth and development. Many companies invest in their employees, offering training programs, apprenticeships and upskilling opportunities that can lead to career advancement within the organization. 

Employer Action: Offer training and development

By offering industry-specific training programs or mentoring programs, you can show candidates that you’re willing to invest in their career growth within your company. Additionally, by outlining a clear career progression path within your company, you could reassure potential staff that they can advance their skillset and career with the company.  If you can show a visual of what the career progression may look like it can be very impactful.

Along with the chance for career growth, factory work is essential in that you can see and feel the fruits of your labor each day. As an owner, it’s essential to communicate the fulfillment of the manufacturing process to all potential employees.

RELATED: Recruiting Women in Manufacturing >>

Fallacy 2: Factory Jobs Are Unsafe

Many people assume that manufacturing jobs are unsafe and that workers are vulnerable to accidents and even death. However, with the advances in technology and safety regulations, workplaces are becoming much safer. 

Employer Action: Conduct a risk assessment and develop a tailored workplace safety plan

Manufacturing companies that put safety first have lower incidents and higher rates of employee retention. Additionally, investing in safety improvements shows potential employees that their health and security are a top priority within the business.

Not sure where to start? Some PEOs, like Axcet HR Solutions, have a full team of risk management and safety and health consultants

Our customized safety programs are designed to keep your business operating at peak levels while making sure your employees go home safely at the end of each workday. These programs include safety policies and procedures that we develop and help you implement, covering everything from evacuation plans, emergency preparedness, industry-specific safety guidelines, and first aid and CPR training. Axcet’s risk specialists also help you take care of your workers by identifying and correcting ergonomic-related health risks in the workplace.

reduce employee injury and illness with comprehensive risk assessments

Fallacy 3: Factory Jobs are Outdated

With the increasing technology in other industries, it's easy to assume that manufacturing jobs are outdated and not keeping up with the trends. This is not the case. 

Manufacturing technology has rapidly evolved, with robotic technologies augmenting human labor. The adoption of innovative practices has also led to the streamlining of manufacturing processes and increased productivity. 

Employer Action: Emphasize the advancements in manufacturing technology

One of the main reasons why people shy away from manufacturing jobs is the belief that these jobs are dull and repetitive. As a manufacturing business owner, however, you know firsthand how much technology has changed the industry. 

Highlighting the use of advanced technologies in the manufacturing process – such as automation, artificial intelligence and 3D printing – can help attract younger workers to the industry. By emphasizing the high-tech aspects of manufacturing through job advertisements, social media platforms and websites, you can help dispel the outdated notions of manufacturing work being tedious and mind-numbing.

increasing women in manufacturing

Fallacy 4: Factory Jobs Don't Provide a Competitive Wage

There’s a misconception perpetuated by society that you can’t have a successful career and earn a competitive salary without going to college. When it comes to manufacturing jobs, many businesses offer competitive wages, benefits…and bonuses without the college debt.

Investing in employee welfare shows business owners respect for the workers and their work, leading to employee commitment and loyalty. It is also important for owners to show their potential employees the growth potential within the company.

Employer Action: Promote the varied career paths in manufacturing

Undoubtedly, the lucrative and varied careers available in manufacturing are less widely acknowledged than in other industries or educational paths. However, modern manufacturing businesses rely on skilled workers in a broad range of fields, from engineering and design to logistics and quality control. 

By showcasing the different career opportunities in manufacturing, you can help job seekers see the advantages of entering the industry.

RELATED: Is Your Employee Compensation Plan Competitive? >>

Reimaging: Getting Your Message Out

To improve your recruiting efforts, you’ll want to get the message out to as many potential applicants as possible. Clearing factory fallacies through social media, technology and school partnerships is a great way to do so.

Social Media and the Web

In today’s digital age, social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook are valuable recruiting tools when used correctly. Engaging your audience on social media by sharing informative posts about your company’s work culture or the latest industry advancements can help to generate interest in your manufacturing business. 

Also, using technology, such as videos and virtual tours, can help applicants note the significant steps technology has had in the industry, presenting a considerable opportunity to discover how dynamic Manufacturing jobs have become.

School Partnerships

Beyond the digital sphere, you can engage directly with potential candidates through partnerships with schools, including trade schools and technical colleges, and community groups. This is an effective way to reach out to people and promote the benefits of manufacturing. By organizing site visits or mentorship programs with students, you can introduce them to the manufacturing processes involved in your industry, make them aware of the broad range of careers available and dispel outdated misconceptions about factory jobs.

RELATED: A Simple Process Reveals Whether or Not Employees Are the Right Culture Fit >>

Attracting New Talent: Challenging But Not Impossible

Attracting new talent to the manufacturing industry may be challenging, but it is certainly not impossible. By emphasizing the advanced technologies used in modern manufacturing, promoting the broad range of careers available, partnering with schools and the community, leveraging social media and technology, and offering training and development opportunities, you can dispel negative perceptions about the industry and recruit a new generation of passionate and skilled workers to your business. 

RELATED: Hiring Formerly Incarcerated May Help Close Manufacturing Skill Gap >>

How Axcet HR Solutions Helps

Need assistance with your recruiting efforts? We can help. Axcet clients gain access to our state-of-the-art applicant tracking system. Additionally, our team of HR experts assist with the following recruitment and retention efforts

  • Recruiting, hiring and retention strategy development
  • Compliant job descriptions
  • Customized offer letters
  • Interviewing questions and training
  • Onboarding process development
  • Background check and drug screening resources

Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation >>

Contact Axcet HR Solutions

Written by Laura Dowling, SPHR

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