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Manufacturers Struggling with Millennial Supply and Demand Issues

In discussions about the future workforce, there's no question millennials are the "force" to be reckoned with. PwC predicts millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025.

At first blush, manufacturing and millennials seem to be a perfect match - the manufacturing sector has thousands of open trade jobs - in the U.S. alone nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade. 

In contrast, the millennial jobless rate is high - U.S. census data show that 40% of the nation's unemployed are millennials - some 4.6 million young people out of work.

But while manufacturers should be making the courting of millennials a key priority, our global survey of executives (nearly half from the manufacturing sector) shows execs are "meh" about recruiting millennials. Only 39% said attracting Millennials was a "fairly significant" or "major" focus for their organizations. This reveals a tremendous business disconnect, as "technology leadership" and a "skilled workforce" were the top growth stimulants identified by those polled - elements that today's highly connected, technologically advanced millennials - are well positioned to facilitate. 

Manufacturers must work to start attracting the next generation of workers now; if not, they may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Many organizations are going to great lengths to enter the collective millennial consciousness - such as General Electric who recently launched a multi-million-dollar ad campaign designed to emphasize its fitness as a digital industrial employer ripe for millennial talent. 

Here's how to hype a career in manufacturing to a millennial:

De facto digital: There's a manufacturing renaissance underway, buoyed by new manufacturing technologies such as nanotechnology, 3D printing and additive manufacturing. There are more machines and robotic arms working on the factory floor than actual people these days. Millennials digital aptitude can provide value in today's manufacturing environment that is increasingly reliant on computer aided design, robotics and sophisticated equipment.

Opportunity for impact: Millennials want to work for companies that are on the cutting edge and blazing new trails and be a part of something bigger than punching in and out from 9 to 5 every day. Manufacturing is experiencing tremendous transformation - from a wide range of forces including digitization, globalization, personalization, smart products, connectivity, and servitization. The opportunity for millennials to contribute in shaping the future of manufacturing and have impact within their own organization has never been greater.

Attractive starting salary: Some recent college grad starting salaries are higher in the manufacturing industry than in other industries. With an average starting salary of $56,841, for example, manufacturing was one of the highest paying industries for class of 2014 college graduates, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. This compares with an average starting salary of $45,473 for all class of 2014 college graduates.

All-inclusive: While there has been much written about millennials being the most educated generation yet, two-thirds of millennials between ages 25 and 32 don't have a bachelor's degree. This makes manufacturing a great career option as job opportunities span a range of education levels--from less than a high school diploma to a doctoral degree.

Posted by Celia Fleischaker, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, at Epicor


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