As of the writing of this article, the United States unemployment rate is a staggeringly low 3.4 percent. As, as you can see from the graph below, generated by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics in January, 2023, it is now the lowest it has been for the past two years.
Despite the commentary in the same article indicating increased employment in the manufacturing sector, the low unemployment rate means that manufacturers have to compete with each other and the general labor market for fewer workers. So, what is a manufacturer to do in this seemingly dire economic situation? What they do best…they get innovative and creative!
Here are some creative ways manufacturers currently use and used in the past to attract employees:
Start Developing the Talent Pipeline in High School
I worked for a small manufacturing company located in a rural community. Because the labor pool was inherently small due to the rural nature of both the community where the manufacturer resides and the towns surrounding it, the company starting hiring kids they or their employees knew for after school jobs in high school. Then, when these kids graduated, they employed them either part time if they went to college in the area or during the summer if they went away for college. By the time the employees ended their schooling, they had 2-6 years of experience working for this company! And, as an added bonus, because the manufacturer offered flexible work hours (after school, part time and summer work), they were seen as an “employer of choice” in the community, which had a very competitive labor market due to the relatively large percentage of industry.
Offer Apprenticeship Programs for Needed Jobs
According to the website, apprenticeship.gov, there are currently 800,000+ apprentices across the nation, a 93% employment retention rate in the apprenticeship community, and apprentices have a $300,000 lifetime earning advantage over their peers who don’t graduate from apprenticeship programs. Why wouldn’t manufacturers use apprenticeships, and this data, to attract workers? Manufacturers can design and register apprenticeship programs to meet their specific needs, and can get assistance doing so from companies like RADD Training.
Think Outside the Box to Get Workers
I spoke to a manufacturing leader who was desperate for workers. He said he took his business card with him everywhere. If he got great service at the local car wash for example, he would ask the worker how much he got paid. If he could offer more for work at his facility, he would give the person his card and ask him to apply for a manufacturing job. I have heard similar stories from manufacturing managers who recruited from the local Starbucks, grocery stores, and fast-food establishments.
Consider Veteran and Re-Entry Workers
Unira Workforce is engaging veteran and re-entry programs to help manufacturers find workers. There are many state and federal organizations (including each state’s Department of Corrections and the Department of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program) who help connect formerly incarcerated people and veterans to manufacturing jobs. Find the ones in your area and engage with them (or use Unira Workforce to do so).
These are just some of the innovative ways manufacturers can find great employees in this time of low unemployment and competitive job markets! Feel free to comment on this post to share your own, so we can learn from each other!