Recruiting and Retaining Manufacturing Workers

Recruiting and Retaining Manufacturing Workers

Recruiting and Retaining Manufacturing Workers

In the past few years, interest in manufacturing jobs has revived. However, the demand for experienced workers continues to increase without corresponding growth in the talent pool. Factors that complicate this issue include the number of skilled tradesmen retiring or leaving the profession and the lack of emphasis on skilled trades in middle and high school in favor of professions like information technology, law and medicine.

As a Deloitte-Manufacturing Institute report noted, “Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled. The skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled.” Other factors that manufacturers are facing include:

Increasing competition

Because of increased competition it’s more important than ever for manufacturers to pursue high-margin products — and speed-to-market is even more crucial. Add to that a more technologically advanced workplace and you can see why manufacturers have a constant need for labor, and a more diverse level of skill sets.

The impact of technology 

The IoT provides an enormous opportunity for manufacturers, because there is such a demand to make products “smart.” From cars to medical devices to consumer products, the marketplace is nearly limitless in terms of what consumers are looking for in terms of utility, connectivity and convenience.

So what are manufacturers and their recruiting partners like Aerotek doing to help recruit and retain workers to keep the business running smoothly? Here are a few ways:

Building a pipeline

At Aerotek, we’re seeing great success with pursuing strategic partnerships with other organizations. We’ve worked with local economic development councils, regional colleges and trade groups like the National Tooling and Machining Association to develop and implement programs to help train manufacturing workers and prepare them for jobs in the industry with great success.

Successful companies are addressing the talent shortage by creating apprenticeships and internships, promoting employees and paying them competitively — creating a culture of continuous improvement. And in the long-term, those are the businesses that receive the most referrals, further easing recruiting challenges and enabling them to attract the best talent.

Apprenticeships increase the flow of talent 

We’re also seeing a groundswell of support for apprenticeships, starting with the June announcement by the U.S. Labor Department that it will call for up to $200 million in new funding. There’s a huge opportunity for manufacturers to have a leadership role in utilizing apprenticeships to future-proof their hiring needs. The result is a real win-win situation that creates a pipeline to sustain workforce needs now and to come.

Many companies are now targeting high school level students to expose them to all the benefits of a career in manufacturing, and to encourage them to look into a trade school or vocational school. The barrier to entry in manufacturing is relatively low with a baseline of fundamental skills, and the opportunity for growth, supervision and leadership opportunities is at an all-time high.

Addressing the skills gap

Most manufacturers agree that the number one priority is finding the top talent through a rigorous program of sourcing and screening candidates. Beyond that, they’re increasingly realizing the benefits of identifying candidates who may not have experience in the industry, but who have transferable skills, an exemplary work ethic or great potential, and training them on the job. That way, they’re doing the best job of preparing the employee for what success means in their organization.


Retaining baby boom employees

Although when to retire is a personal decision, I believe employers can ensure senior employees feel valued by acknowledging and taking advantage of their organizational knowledge and company-specific skillsets. That can be done through having them mentor less-experienced workers or asking them to create documentation on best practices.

This ultimately helps the company to retain “tribal knowledge” and success factors that have been a direct result of these workers’ longevity and growth within these companies.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact me at or 630-645-3578.

About Aerotek

Our people are everything. For more than 30 years, Aerotek® Inc. has distinguished itself as a leader in recruiting, staffing and strategic outsourced solutions by having a deep understanding of the intersection of talent and business. As a strategic partner to more than 18,000 clients and 300,000 contract employees every year, Aerotek’s people-focused approach yields competitive advantage for its clients and rewarding careers for its contract employees. Headquartered in Hanover, Md., Aerotek operates a network of over 250 non-franchised offices with more than 6,000 internal employees dedicated to serving our customers. Aerotek is an Allegis Group company, the global leader in talent solutions. To learn more, visit


About Aston Carter

Aston Carter is a distinguished global provider of recruitment and staffing services to companies requiring highly specialized business professionals. We have an unrivaled commitment to delivering first class service to clients and business professionals across a variety of disciplines, including Accounting and Finance as well as Governance, Risk and Compliance. With more than 60 offices across Europe, Asia Pacific and North America, Aston Carter provides local, regional and global expertise to drive value and meet our customers’ unique needs. Aston Carter is a division of Aerotek. Aerotek is an Allegis Group company, a global leader in talent solutions.

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