Growth is back

Of 362 senior-level managers and executives in the manufacturing industry that we surveyed, 86% reported that they are growing at or beyond projections. How will this industry ensure that growth is here to stay? Regardless of company size, offerings, geography or market share, the answer is always the same: Companies need a strategy to attract and retain a smart, engaged workforce.

However, finding talent is more challenging than ever. According to our research, access to a qualified workforce remains the top inhibitor to company growth.

Central to this issue is the struggle to attract the next generation into the manufacturing workforce. This younger talent pool is excited by innovation, but do they equate innovation with a long-term career working in the manufacturing industry? In certain areas, yes. But is it enough to generate the workforce needed for the future? Not yet.

The younger generation is entering the working world with different expectations than their parents and grandparents. From a strong culture to being involved in decision-making, emerging leaders are forming their wish lists of what their work experience will be like, regardless of industry.

The ability to work with new technology is, as expected, a key ingredient for attracting a sought-after workforce. Younger workers are used to simple, seamless technology experiences in the apps and services they use in their personal lives. When they’re faced with a workplace with outdated, hard-to-use technology, they’re less comfortable and less motivated. But investing in technology is not the only solution. Similar to trends in other industries, our research found that an energizing culture, regular communication and strong leadership ranked as top priorities with this population.

There are now up to five generations in the workforce today. By the year 2020, 50% of the workforce will be made up of millennials. This presents an unprecedented opportunity for different skills, views and ideas to converge and transform manufacturing. The biggest transformation that needs to happen today is changing the way younger generations perceive the manufacturing industry.

Imagine what manufacturing could become if each company, in their own way, became an ambassador for the industry at large? If the numbers of vocal champions were to grow, along with success stories that generate excitement for the industry, the magnetic pull of this field would go a long way to securing a consistent, thriving workforce of the future.

Critical Insights

Based on the findings in this report, we see four areas that leaders will find as critical to attracting and retaining the talent that will grow their business. These insights echo what’s true for organizations in other industries. Successful companies are finding ways to meet the expectations of employees in other industries: strong leadership, an engaged culture, opportunities for growth and access to exciting projects.


People want to be a part of a strong, supportive culture with a clear line-of-sight to leadership and organizational vision.


People want to work on meaningful projects with great equipment and exciting technologies.


People want to have opportunities for personal and professional growth and a clear path to advancement.


People want to enjoy the state-of-the-art features and benefits of employment.

Remember, stories attract people.

What are the stories your team tells about your business? Are they the stories that will attract the workforce you want?

Old perceptions of working in manufacturing might be fueling a stigma that is a barrier to reaching new talent. If growth in the industry is to continue, a tectonic shift must happen in how manufacturing exists in the minds of future generations and their parents.

An exciting career in manufacturing is a more compelling option than ever when compared to other career opportunities. An investment in your team and your company’s future that will allow you to be, and be seen as state-of-the-art, will feed your business’ growth and fuel what’s next for the manufacturing industry.


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