‘Doing’ as the NEW Learning
Baby Boomers are retiring en masse. This unprecedented exodus has been the subject of a Social Security Administration report, which found these workers departing at a rate of 10,000 per day. While such a figure carries far reaching implications for every sector of the economy, the impact on manufacturing companies has been particularly harsh.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
A study by the Pew Research Center shows that, as of this year, Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers as the largest segment of the workforce. This influx of 53.5 million new workers should translate into a surplus of skilled replacements, but it hasn’t. Only 5.4% of those 18-34 have opted for careers in manufacturing. Branding can be blamed for part of this shortfall, as the industry has proven inept at appealing to the digitally obsessed generation.
LAWS OF ATTRACTION
There are countless articles, seminars, and HR pamphlets dedicated to the complex art of recruiting Millennials, who are a whole other kettle of fish. Since it could take a separate post to unpack the “How To” conundrum, I’ll simplify things by examining the obvious characteristics of Generation Y. For starters, we know that they are:
- Group Oriented
- Socially Active
- Developmentally concerned
- Digitally Obsessed
Now, let’s look at recent technological advances reshaping our industry:
- 3D Printing and Painting
- Sustainability Initiatives
- Internet of Things
- SMAC Stak
- Next Shoring
- Introduction of Industry Apps
From here we can conclude that manufacturers and millennials make natural allies. Revisiting the branding issue for a moment; our industry has done a poor job of distancing itself from the iconic photographs of dank assembly line laden factories of the early twentieth century. My manufacturing company is not the same as my grandfather’s, but without a push to transmit this new image to the general public, potential workers remain unenlightened.
THE GOOD NEWS
The United States Department of Education has shifted focus to STEM related curricula. This push will help capture the imaginations of future workers and prepare them for a career in our industry.
THE BAD NEWS
While this bodes well for future members of the workforce, it does nothing to assist with the current deficiency. Even if interest were suddenly generated and the industry experienced a massive influx, there would not be sufficient lead time for proper employee training and development.
DOING AS THE NEW LEARNING
This has led myself and other employers to develop on-the-job-training techniques designed to maximize efficiency in a reduced time frame. Here is an opportunity to appeal to the creativity, networking abilities, and group mentality of Millennials, by asking that they assist in the innovation and application process. For employee training and development in the new era, doing must become the new learning.
EMPLOYEE TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
Kryton Engineered Metals and other manufacturing employers are also maximizing development through such programs as:
- Internship Offers
- Community and Technical College based recruiting programs
- Mentoring Programs
- Job Rotation
As already seen, millennials are training focused and require constant feedback. As a manufacturer, I understand the value of placing incoming workers with veteran employees who can provide such feedback. I also understand their desire to be a part of something larger than themselves, and know I can capitalize on this by having them learn aspects of every job process. Doing so helps them see that they are more than just another cog in the machine. After all, if I wait for education to provide the skilled workforce needed, my machine will not have enough cogs to function.