The repeated writings about a skilled workforce shortage are in fact true, but they gloss over the fact that in some “manufacturing rich” areas, good workforce in general can be in short supply.
There are increasingly focused experts expounding on the traits, mannerisms, and values of the Millennials that an organization has to build into its personal, in order to attract them to come work for them.
In essence, this focus is not all that new, only in that we have already been managing the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, AND the GenX’ers all working side-by-side. The workplace has evolved to accommodate all of these “character traits” and will continue to evolve.
Perhaps the biggest issue to overcome is to make sure that Millennials recognize that Manufacturing is a viable means of making a living and meeting their expectations of what a work/life balance entails. For the majority of their upbringing, they witnessed the downsizing of manufacturing. Directly they saw their parents, uncles and aunts, maybe even big brother and sister’s jobs, their lively hoods get “offshored.” Indirectly they have watched and experienced the “offshored” manufacturing thrown into the limelight for human rights violations and heard a constant news feed of low wage manufacturing centers. So is it any wonder, that as they have reached working age, they perhaps view manufacturing in a less than stellar light at best and not even worth consideration at worst.
Manufacturers that recognize that as business reshores, they need to modernize their approach to manufacturing management, will start to reap the benefits that Millennials have to offer.
Millennials have deeply rooted ideals of socially right and wrong, being a part of something meaningful, being both mentored on what they can be doing and receiving feedback on how they are doing. They do not want to just come and go putting in their 8-5, 5 days a week. They want to know there is a path and where they are going, short and long term.
A structural change to manufacturing management is afoot. A less top down structured organization that does not say what needs to be done, but provides a vision of where they want to go, and provides training, tools and resources to their people to take their company in that direction.
Do these things, and finding that workforce may not be as big as a challenge as it is for other organizations, especially your competition.