The manufacturing industry was hit hard during the pandemic. From just February 2020 to April 2020, the industry saw a job loss of 17%, which was slightly higher than the national average. Despite early concerns about the industry’s ability to thrive in a post-pandemic market, most experts predict Canadian manufacturing output will reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.

Despite this growth, attracting and retaining skilled workers continues to be a struggle for many manufacturers. To make hiring even more difficult, new manufacturing job trends are changing the way employers recruit top talent. According to a recent study, 77% of manufacturers surveyed expect to have a hard time recruiting the skilled workers they need to meet demand.

One major challenge for manufacturers is that it ranks as one of the lowest paying sectors in Canada. Since candidates are more likely to gravitate towards higher-paying jobs, this obstacle can make attracting skilled workers extremely difficult. To overcome these obstacles and remain competitive, employers in the manufacturing industry must understand these challenges, as well as emerging trends in manufacturing jobs, in order to develop effective hiring practices.

Recent studies reveal that 43% of hiring managers in the manufacturing industry expect to add new jobs in 2022. If these employers want to improve their hiring outcomes and attract the skilled workers they need to move forward in a post-pandemic market, they must first understand the evolving manufacturing job trends.

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growing labour shortages

If the global labour outlook is accurate, the manufacturing industry will have a demand for an additional 4.8 million jobs by 2028, with only 2.4 million workers available to fill these jobs. This leaves the industry with a shortage of over 2 million skilled workers. There are several factors spurring the shortfall of skilled talent, but one of the prime culprits is massive retirements.

While the aging workforce is affecting many industries, the manufacturing sector is being hit extra hard. The average worker in manufacturing is much older than the average Canadian worker. In fact, 22% of these workers are aged 55 or older. This statistic means that more than one-fifth of the nation’s manufacturing workers are inching closer to retirement.

Employers must find ways to effectively deal with these high retirement levels. For example, employers can consider investing in reskilling older workers to entice them to remain working longer at less demanding jobs. Additionally, manufacturers can develop robust mentorship programs to give their aging workers the opportunity to share their vast skills and experience with the younger generations prior to retirement.

broader talent pipelines

While most manufacturers realize the importance of building a strong talent pipeline to improve hiring outcomes, traditional pipelines are no longer enough. With an anticipated skills shortage of over two million workers, manufacturers must start to think outside the box when it comes to their recruitment strategies.

First, employers should consider diversifying their hiring efforts. Traditionally, manufacturing has been considered a male role. In fact, only one-third of the manufacturing workforce is women. By not targeting women, as well as other underrepresented groups, such as immigrants, with their recruitment strategies, manufacturers are missing a huge opportunity to attract highly skilled workers.

Additionally, as it becomes harder and harder to attract skilled workers, employers must start focusing on hiring candidates with transferable skills as well as ones that can obtain the necessary skills with adequate training.

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advancement in digital technology and automation

There’s no denying that digital technology has transformed the manufacturing workplace. In fact, studies suggest that globally 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have already been lost to automation, and it's predicted that up to 20 million more jobs in this sector could be lost by 2030. The reality is that robotics and other forms of automation can handle many menial manufacturing tasks faster and more uniformly than humans.

Automation won’t, however, reduce the hiring demands for employers or play a significant role in closing the skills gap. In fact, as automation in the manufacturing industry increases, so will the demand for attracting workers with the necessary digital skills to work side-by-side with this emerging technology.

Manufacturers should shift their hiring practices to target candidates who possess these coveted skills. Additionally, they should invest in both upskilling and reskilling to ensure their current workers have the skills needed to move forward with the company in the years to come.

faster hiring processes

Today’s employers in most sectors, including manufacturing, are finding it necessary to speed up their hiring process or risk losing top talent candidates. It’s crucial for employers to take steps to streamline the recruitment process by removing cumbersome steps that slow down the hiring cycle. This includes minimizing the application process, using technology to filter through applications and determining the difference between need-to-have and want-to-have skills and qualifications. Speeding up the hiring process can enable manufacturers to hire high-quality candidates before their competitors get a chance.

unfavourable industry perception

The manufacturing industry has been struggling with an image problem for quite some time. Many candidates simply view this type of work as hard, low-paying jobs. This unfavourable view only works to hinder manufacturing hiring efforts.

Fortunately, manufacturing leaders are starting to take steps to tackle this image problem. For example, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and The Manufacturing Institute (MI) have joined forces to create a gamified mobile experience to entice young workers to consider manufacturing jobs.

Additionally, employers are enticing workers by offering competitive salaries and meaningful benefits, such as:

  • more PTO (40%)
  • better job titles (37%)
  • signing bonuses (35%)

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