From MAGNET: Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Talent

Each month we be feature a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org.

Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Talent

By Judith Crocker, Director of Workforce & Talent Development, MAGNET

Recent surveys of manufacturers consistently identify one of their top three priorities as workforce issues. Companies— regardless of size— recognize that a highly skilled, qualified workforce is critical to their success. Whether manufacturers are seeking to develop new products, enter new markets, or improve overall productivity, their workforce will be key to their ability to remain competitive and achieve their goals.

Companies that are successful in attracting and retaining talented people  realize they must be pro-active and become part of their workforce  solution.

Fewer young people are choosing manufacturing careers. They don’t know  the opportunities or the educational requirements.  Coupling that fact with  smaller numbers of students in high school means a smaller pool of qualified candidates for employment.

To overcome that obstacle, smart manufacturers are actively engaging with educational institutions in their communities, informing students, teachers, guidance counselors and parents about the many stable and well-paying jobs they have available.

Starting with middle school age students, these manufacturers are sending young scientists, engineers, technicians and machine operators to visit local classrooms and talk with students about their work.

Students, teachers and parents are also invited to open houses to see the inside of plants and facilities they likely drive by on a daily basis, but have no idea of what is actually taking place inside. They tour the facility, are introduced to the young professionals in the company and see for themselves what takes place at that facility.

Many manufacturers are also sponsoring teams for the FIRST Robotics or Robobot competitions giving students valuable hands-on experience and also the opportunity to work as team members with engineers, technicians, and scientists to solve technical challenges.

Promising high school students can be provided shadowing opportunities that could lead to summer work-based learning experiences and possibly part-time employment during the school year.  The students learn the company culture, its products, processes and customers and can contribute to the overall company goals.  Many students who start out as part-time workers in high school often progress to achieve consistently higher company positions, becoming supervisors, managers, and executives.

October will once again be celebrated as Manufacturing Month in Ohio. This would be an ideal time for you to start your proactive campaign to build your workforce of the future by sponsoring an event in your local community. If you start planning now, you should be able to hold a successful community event at your facilities this October.

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