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7 Ways Talent Acquisition Managers Can Save Time and Work Around the Manufacturing Labor Shortage

Hiring amid the manufacturing skills gap and labor shortage is a challenging and time-consuming effort for many talent acquisition managers. We offer seven ways to work around current market constraints and save time in the process.

Talent acquisition managers in the manufacturing industry are caught between a rock and a hard place. They need skilled workers, but it’s challenging to find talent amid the manufacturing labor shortage and skills gap.

Some companies are looking toward long-term solutions such as building a talent pipeline through area high schools and colleges. But those efforts take time, and manufacturers need talent now. 

Here are seven ways to quickly expand your talent pool, reduce churn and identify promising candidates faster to work around the manufacturing labor shortage. 

1. Close the manufacturing skills gap by rethinking the skills and qualifications you need.

While the manufacturing skills gap is real, some companies make talent acquisition harder than needed by insisting on qualifications that don’t actually matter. Evaluate whether certain positions need workers with college degrees or on-the-job experience. Consider whether you’re paying entry-level workers enough to justify the skills you’re asking them to have. Take a critical look at your job description and required qualifications, and cut anything that doesn’t contribute to a safer, more productive workplace. 

2. Hire manufacturing talent for soft skills and train the rest.

What if there’s a shortage of manufacturing workers in your area with the specific skills you need? If your sourcing efforts haven’t been going well, consider training lesser-qualified applicants who are eager to learn and work for your company. With this approach, you’ll want to focus exclusively on candidates’ soft skills like teachability, work ethic, risk awareness, receptiveness to feedback and comfort with technology. 

3. Upskill your current workers and promote from within.

But wait: if you’re primarily hiring entry-level employees, where will you find the highly skilled workers you need to run specific machinery or manage technical oversight? From within your current ranks. 

This approach to tackling the labor shortage focuses on upskilling your workforce. Establishing a regular training rhythm and promoting employees creates space at the bottom for entry-level workers. As a bonus, employees who are consistently challenged and given opportunities for growth and advancement are less likely to leave your company for greener pastures, reducing churn and easing the pressure to find new workers.  

4. Reduce churn by paving a road to success for new hires.

In its 2023 Manufacturing Industry Outlook report, Deloitte shared that manufacturers are hiring at a record level but “the industry remains significantly short of skilled workers.” Why aren’t the new hires addressing the labor shortage? Unfortunately, workers are walking out as fast as they’re coming in. According to Deloitte, “voluntary separations continue to outnumber layoffs and discharges, indicating substantial workforce churn.” 

How can you reduce churn in your workplace? By creating a clear path to success for your new hires. You might create a mentorship program where you partner new hires with older employees who need to scale back their responsibilities as they approach retirement. These experienced employees could reduce their physical workload while ensuring that new employees learn the ropes safely and efficiently. 

5. Improve diversity by leveling the field

Diversity matters for at least two reasons. First, applicants evaluate a company’s diversity when deciding whether to work there; nearly half (42%) of respondents in one Gallup poll stated that they consider how diverse and inclusive an organization is when looking for a job. Second, talent acquisition managers can instantly expand their candidate pool by intentionally seeking out diverse candidates. According to Deloitte’s 2023 Manufacturing Industry Outlook report, “women currently account for less than one-third of the total manufacturing workforce, and the proportion of Black, Asian and Latinx employees is even lower.” 

How can you find more diverse candidates? Rethink where you source your candidates; if that source lacks diversity, you’re unnecessarily restricting your candidate pool. And critically read your job description and required qualifications to weed out any unwelcoming language. Start crafting more inclusive job descriptions by removing gendered language from terms like “man hours” or “foreman” and replacing them with neutral terms such as “labor hours” and “supervisor.” 

6. Be flexible where you can, especially with benefits.

Flexibility is often lacking in manufacturing. You need people to show up in person and on time if they’re going to work on your manufacturing floor. But if you look hard enough, you’ll find places where you can work creative benefits and flexibility into your offer packages.

Would your employees prefer to work longer hours with more days off? Would changing your shift hours minimize commute time or give your workers more time with their families? Can the company provide coffee and bagels one day a week? These small steps could add up to a better quality of life for your employees—which can reduce churn and make you a more attractive option for candidates. 

7. Get to the good candidates faster with automated candidate screening.

Don’t waste time verifying facts on applicants, interviewing candidates who don’t have the basic qualifications you require or answering common applicant questions. Recruitment automation technology lets you streamline candidate sourcing, screening and communication so you can focus your efforts only on top-tier candidates. Recruitment software options are available to make every pre-interview step easier and save you time.

Talent acquisition managers can overcome the manufacturing labor shortage by adopting new approaches. Which of these seven ideas will you try?

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