When it comes to hiring talented candidates, every commercial industry has its own unique challenges to contend with. And while general recruitment advice may be relevant under the right conditions, it's crucial for hiring managers to develop holistic perspectives about the positions they're trying to fill. This is especially important for employers in the manufacturing sector, as it is currently undergoing a major transformation thanks to new digital technologies and the push for increased automation.
Locating qualified candidates who fit the traditional mold is becoming more difficult for manufacturers throughout the U.S. According to a report from Deloitte, the current skills gap in manufacturing could lead to an estimated 2.4 million unfilled positions between 2018 and 2028. What's more, a large portion of the industry's workforce is nearing retirement age, per research from the Society for Human Resource Management, which may negatively impact companies looking to build a sustainable, future-proofed employee base. However, shifting labor force demographics also offer employers an opportunity to reassess their hiring practices and onboard candidates with the right combination of knowledge, technical skills and technology-based proficiencies.
Here are three key traits to look for when recruiting manufacturing professionals:
Attention to detail
While it's true that detail-oriented candidates are valuable in nearly every industry, manufacturing roles require workers to be exceptionally alert, observant and quick to act. Working alongside heavy machinery comes with a variety of health and safety risks, which can be offset by employees who are able to forge a deep understanding of workplace hazards.
Attention to detail is also essential for optimizing production processes, reducing downtime and boosting productivity, according to Thomas International. As manufacturers continue to pursue digital transformation, this trait will be incredibly valuable to their restructuring efforts and the development of new manufacturing techniques.
Increased automation has not only changed how workers perform their assigned tasks, it's also generated a variety of advancement opportunities for those willing to be cross-trained. Considering close to 3 million industrial robots are expected to be in use within factory settings by 2020, according to the International Federation of Robotics, manufacturers may benefit from prioritizing adaptability during their recruitment drives.
Tomorrow's manufacturing workers will likely possess a wide range of skills sourced from different disciplines, including supply chain management, IT administration and data analytics. While the completely autonomous factories portrayed in science fiction may be decades off, there will likely be several transitional periods along the way that may force workers to acquire new proficiencies and take on unexpected responsibilities.
Technology and computer skills
The advent of Industry 4.0 has introduced a number of technological advancements that have reshaped how companies design and produce manufactured goods, as noted in a recent article by Boston Consulting Group. From big data analytics and cloud computing to internet of things devices, there is no shortage of new digital technologies that manufacturers are leveraging to streamline their day-to-day operations. That said, large-scale integration of these assets requires significant technical knowledge and an aptitude for IT management.
To keep tech rollouts on schedule and under budget, manufacturers will need to onboard high-quality candidates that are familiar with these emergent systems. Hiring applicants who possess degrees in technology or related work experience can help employers create more effective IT deployment road maps and secure enhanced productivity through workflow innovation.
Keeping pace with modern labor demands is no easy task, especially for recruiters who regularly fill positions that require specific technical skills and industry knowledge. In some cases, it may be beneficial to look for applicants who might not perfectly align with traditional manufacturing roles, but who instead possess the flexibility, tech savvy and personal drive to quickly get up to speed.