December 5, 2014 / best practices, Employee Morale, human capital, maintaining talent, operator training, resource allocation, skills gap, strategic planning
Metal service centers, just like every other segment of the manufacturing industry, are facing a huge challenge that is only going to intensify in the years to come. That challenge is the skills gap, and if you aren’t facing this issue head on just yet, you will be soon.
As stated in a previous blog post, skilled production workers are one of the largest workforce segments facing retirement in the near future, which will have an impact on the number of experienced workers on the shop floor. Meanwhile, the next generation of workers just isn’t interested in pursuing manufacturing careers. Large corporations like GE are trying to change that, but shifting cultural perception isn’t something that happens overnight. This is leaving manufacturers with a small pool of talent from which to choose.
Many experts believe that actively attacking the skills gap will require managers to adjust the ways they both hire and maintain talent. While larger company goals and expectations should never be compromised, part of the solution will be for your service center to adapt to a new generation of operators. In other words, it will serve you better to embrace—not fight—the generational traits of Millennial workers, which includes taking into account their upbringing, their strengths, and their weaknesses.
What are some of these traits? In a recent article published in Forward magazine, Neil Howe, president of consulting firm LifeCourse Associates, provides a few attitudes and behaviors that define Millennials:
- They feel special and have been sheltered.
- They want to be mentored.
- They are team-oriented.
- They want a “mainstream” job.
- They feel pressured.
- They are achievement-oriented.
According to Howe, companies need to re-brand their operations with these tendencies in mind if they want to attract a new generation of operators. For example, Howe says managers should focus on creating teamwork-oriented activities—a tactic that fits well within the premise of lean manufacturing. “Give Millennials shared responsibilities, the chance to learn from peers, and let them collaborate on design and production work,” Howe suggests.
These types of strategies, combined with community efforts such as plant tours and working with local universities, will not only help your service center close the skills gap, but just as importantly, prepare you for a next-generation of customers as well.