Report: How Millennials, Gen Z Can Fill Manufacturing Talent Shortage

In a new report, Southfield-based SME is offering solutions to a manufacturing talent shortage that highlights millennials entering leadership positions and Generation Z entering the workforce.
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worker in smart factory
SME has released a report that outlines what manufacturing operations can do to attract Millennial and Gen Z workers and help close the industry’s skills gap. // Stock photo

In a new report, Southfield-based SME is offering solutions to a manufacturing talent shortage that highlights millennials entering leadership positions and Generation Z entering the workforce.

“Solving the Talent Challenge: Millennials and Gen Z in the Workforce from a Manufacturer’s Perspective” is by Tooling U-SME, a division of SME which provides manufacturing training solutions. The report notes that a growing shortage of skilled workers over the next decade — up to as many as 2.4 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. by 2028 — could put $2.5 trillion of GDP at risk.

Tooling U-SME delivers learning and development solutions to the manufacturing community, working with more than half of all Fortune 500 manufacturing companies, as well as 600 educational institutions across the country. SME, founded in 1932, was formerly known as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

The report suggests that attracting Millennials and Gen Z workers to manufacturing is only part of a solution. Insight into the workstyles of the generations is vital to recruiting, retaining, and training. It also analyzes the generations’ expectations and offers seven key insights into managing a multigenerational workforce.

“Millennials and Gen Z workers are vital to the manufacturing industry’s ability to thrive in the post-pandemic economy,” says Jeannine Kunz, vice president of Tooling U-SME. “By better understanding and embracing their strengths, manufacturers can build high performers, providing exciting career opportunities and boosting productivity throughout the entire organization, and offering companies a competitive advantage in a crowded talent marketplace.”

The seven insights are as follows:

  • Don’t generalize. Every worker is different, and varying life experiences impact each individual’s approach to work and careers.
  • Communicate a corporate mission. Both generations expect companies to demonstrate a sense of purpose and explain how each individual job contributes to the mission.
  • Show workers paths for growth, ask them about career aspirations, institute steps for skill and talent development, clarify milestones, and recognize success.
  • Provide continual learning opportunities through continuing education, interaction with leaders, and mentorship.
  • Allow workers to share ideas through brainstorming sessions that encourage them to contribute while understanding the company’s big picture.
  • Go digital, moving away from paper through hiring and training. Allow younger workers to share their technology expertise with older workers to help create peer connections.
  • Provide regular and immediate feedback.

The full report is available here.

SME is a nonprofit that connects manufacturing professionals, academia, and communities to build manufacturers and enterprises.

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