In the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) most recent survey, 90.1% of respondents say their outlook for the remainder of 2021 is mostly optimistic with higher consumer demands and projected capital investments. However, 78% of the respondents said one prevailing concern is the inability to attract and retain quality talents.
It’s been no secret that there’s a talent shortage primarily driven by the older generation retiring on a larger scale, and the younger generation exhibiting minimal interests in positions in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a 2018 study made by Deloitte revealed that a lack of interest in the younger generation can leave about 2.4 million STEM jobs unfilled by 2028.
Here are solutions that some employers have embraced to bridge these critical talent gaps:
1. MAKE STEM JOBS APPEALING TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION: There are currently many efforts taking place to expose the younger generation to pursue jobs in STEM, including NAM’s “Creators Wanted” Initiative – A national effort to get K-12th grade students hands-on experience at different manufacturing and product development companies’ facilities. Opening the doors to these students gives them a better sense that careers in manufacturing and engineering can be considered high-tech, hands-on, and not the typical mundane assembly lines of the past.
2. BROADENING SKILLS QUALIFICATIONS FOR ENTRY-LEVEL ROLES: In the past, the minimum education criterion for an entry-level engineer is a Bachelor’s Degree. However, Deloitte found in its study that 8 in 10 job titles with the highest number of job postings in 2019 and 2020 were for entry-level positions, generally requiring only a postsecondary certificate or high-school diploma. This could open the job to more candidates, who can continue their collegiate education while getting real-world experience in the engineering field.
3. EMBRACE FLEX WORK ARRANGEMENTS: A BankRate survey stated that 77% of Gen Z workers (people within 18-24 years old) and 63% of millennials (people within 25-40 years old) are planning on looking for new jobs within the year to pursue jobs with the more work-life balance provided by flexible work arrangements. Mark Hamrick, Bankrate Senior Economic Analyst, said, “Pandemic-inspired changes, including the ability to work remotely and/or from home, have transformed mindsets and expectations for many workers.” Accommodating work-from-home arrangements or alternative work hours could not only attract the younger generation to apply to open jobs, but it can also reduce retention from high-quality workers from competitors who provide these incentives.
4. EMPLOY CONTINGENT WORKERS: In a Gartners Workplace Survey, 33% of employers said they plan on hiring contingent workers to rapidly address skills gaps on a flexible arrangement. In light of the challenging market for talent in general, this may be adopted as a long-term strategy.
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