Mind The Gap: Generation Z in Manufacturing
NMN talks skills deficits, apprenticeships and EEF’s #GenerationZ Workshop
It is no secret that the manufacturing industry is facing a distinct personnel challenge. Increasing retirement rates for Generation X, also known as the baby boomer generation, coupled with the misinformed public perception of modern manufacturing jobs is resulting in a major gap materialising within the workforce.
Alarming Skill-Shortage Statistics
IndustryWeek reports that approximately 25% of manufacturing employees are within the 55+ age bracket; once they step down and current workers level up, businesses will face the struggle of filling the roles at the beginning of the career ladder.
The reality of this global problem is reinforced by further evidence conducted by Deloitte, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute, who recently predicted that US manufacturing is likely to suffer a shortage of 2 million skilled workers between 2015-2025. The rapidly changing workforce across the pond places the UK in a similarly difficult position.
Time-Turning for The Future of Manufacturing
The evolution of the industry, however, is not something new. Manufacturing is constantly changing and developing – technology is updated, machinery is optimised and processes are streamlined: filling the employment gap with an influx of new talent is vital to the longevity of the sector. Manufacturers must work to overturn these daunting statistics by showcasing the opportunities an industry career provides.
While horizon scanning is undoubtedly useful for steering businesses into the future, it is also often fruitful to review what has worked well in times gone by. Apprenticeships, a practice which began around the 12th century, are experiencing a comeback following the prioritisation of higher education in mainstream schooling. Manufacturers are increasingly returning to and redoubling investments in apprenticeships as a way to bridge the skills gap.
An excellent way to attract younger people to positions within the sector, 21st-century apprenticeships pay workers while preparing them for a career in dynamic and versatile manufacturing arenas. Recruitment excellence causes businesses to become more diverse and adaptable to the changing world; executives repeatedly acknowledge it as a key motivator for manufacturing competitiveness. Benefits of taking on apprentices include:
- Core assets within the company to manage the worker shortfall
- A loyal workforce likely to remain at the company once qualified
- A cost-effective training solution
- Apprentices earn while they learn, resulting in motivated workers
- Mutually beneficial skill sharing
NMN Apprenticeship Success
NMN acknowledges the importance of transferring vital tribal knowledge throughout businesses, while recognising the value that the new generations and their understanding of modern technology have to offer. NMN was proud to announce that network member Canal Engineering was highly commended in the 2017 East Midlands regional final of the National Apprenticeship Awards for delivering high quality training to their apprentices. This year, NMN is looking forward to the National Apprenticeship Week 2019, which will take place from the 4th-8th March. The week-long celebration aims to demonstrate the positive impact apprenticeships make to the individual, businesses and the economy.
Conference to Engage Generation Z
Another significant approach designed to reimagine the workforce challenge in the sector is EEF, The Manufacturers’ Organisation and its annual National Manufacturing Conference, being held on the 19th February 2019. This year, the conference programme includes an interactive workshop session entitled #GenerationZ: How to attract the future generation of creators, innovators and makers. Apprentices and graduates from the University of Derby, the University of Aston and Nottingham Trent University will be joining to help test how to effectively attract, engage with and retain the next generation of workers to bolster the manufacturing industry. Registration for what is sure to be an exciting and informative conference is still open.
Closing the Gap
Attracting new employees is a matter of survival for businesses. Apprenticeships and skill sharing workshops are just two key ways in which manufacturing companies can gain a competitive edge. Ultimately, adapting the public’s perception of the industry will help to close the workforce gap and lead to a richer, more diverse and inspired pool of applicants; the next generation may well be the extra burst of energy your business needs to drive success.