How to Attract Manufacturing Employees

March 24, 2023
Written by: Micki Vandeloo

If you own a manufacturing company in the United States, I would be very surprised if you didn’t have at least one open position today.  As we all know, this is a VERY competitive job market for manufacturers.  You need to stand out to prospective employees, but how do you do so to attract the best and brightest?  This article is designed to provide some inspiration and ideas for how to attract manufacturing employees.

Attract Manufacturing Employees with a Signing Bonus

Many manufacturers are taking a hint from healthcare and major league sports by offering signing bonuses for new employees. Some companies also offer a matching or comparable benefit to employees who refer employees to their companies.  In either case, these are a lump sum bonuses paid to employees and referring employees if the new employee stays for a period of time (3, 6 or 12 months).  This is a great benefit to encourage new manufacturing employees to stay on at a company after employment.

Develop Apprenticeships for Key Manufacturing Positions

A lot of manufacturers think apprenticeships are just for union shops. I do understand this misperception, as apprenticeships have been used in many construction trades for decades.  However, apprenticeships are a great tool to attract manufacturing employees, primarily because they offer a progressive wage increase and create a pathway for higher level jobs on the manufacturing floor, if an employee desires such a position.  In addition, apprenticeships provide a structured program for onboarding employees, which provides a predictable timetable for skills attainment.  This is a great planning tool for shop floor management!

Engaging Local Workforce Development Non-Profit and Quasi-Government Organizations

This is a viable option if your manufacturing facility is in close proximity to a major metropolitan city, where many of these programs are housed. These organizations help those leaving incarceration, women who have been abused or abandoned, and homeless individuals, among others, prepare and train for careers, including those in manufacturing.  And, don’t count out the local Scouting troops.  One manufacturing I worked with had great success providing plant tours for Scouts and ended up getting some part time and permanent employees from this engagement. Time you spend finding these resources in close proximity to your facility is time well spent.

Offer Part Time and Summer Jobs to Encourage Students to Explore Manufacturing Careers

This is probably my favorite option for many manufacturers, based on my own personal experience. If you can segregate jobs that could be done on a part time basis and are appropriate for high school or college age students, offer those through local high schools and colleges as after-school and summer work.  A company that I worked for did this and also offered jobs to these same students during the summer if they attended a college away from home or was flexible with their schedule if they attended a community college closer to home.  This was a win-win for the company.  The student had a way to help pay for their schooling and got exposure to manufacturing careers.  The company got to evaluate the student’s performance and commitment to a manufacturing career and also had a worker with up to 6 years’ experience after graduating from college!

What additional ideas do you have for attracting workers? Email me at, and I will be sure to include them in a future post!

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