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Industry Insights | 5 minute read

How to recruit technical manufacturing talent

May 16, 2023
Recruiting tech-savvy manufacturing talent is challenging in a competitive market. These strategies can help you find skilled talent.

Recruitment in the supply chain and manufacturing industries is not as easy as it used to be. It all began with the recent shift to e-commerce and the consequent push for companies to deliver a greater number of products at faster rates than ever before. From there, global economic headwinds that slowed down production pipelines caused a geographical shift, moving more highly technical manufacturing to the United States and forcing manufacturers to rethink how they operated.

These were the primary catalysts that drove transformation in how manufacturing companies approached production and, as a result, the type of skilled workers needed to get the job done. As such, many businesses are now working to increase their automation capacities and adopt continuous improvement initiatives — areas that require different sets of skills than what was traditionally sought in the industry.

Now, these organizations are looking for more tech-savvy talent who can help them streamline operations and adapt more quickly to market changes. The problem is that hiring tech talent is easier said than done, and applying conventional manufacturing recruitment strategies doesn’t necessarily work.

An effective supply chain recruitment strategy is essential for businesses to address the tech talent shortage hounding the industry.

The struggle to recruit tech-savvy talent

Outside the manufacturing and supply chain industries, a wider tech talent shortage is plaguing the job market. There are more jobs available than people with the necessary skills to fill them. What’s more, STEM degrees represent a small percentage of all degrees received. Because of this, the competition for qualified talent is exceptionally high.

Within the supply chain and manufacturing industries, this competition is only heightened. Because these sectors aren’t traditionally associated with high-tech work, many candidates may not consider them viable opportunities. Combine this with the niche skills necessary for these skilled manufacturing jobs, and you have a recipe for talent scarcity.

How to recruit technical talent in manufacturing

Fortunately, manufacturing and supply chain recruitment trends aren’t all doom and gloom. To effectively modernize the workforce, it’s important for manufacturing companies to also modernize the ways they recruit. With that in mind, here are three strategies manufacturers can employ to improve their technology recruitment efforts:

1. Analyze your competitiveness in the market

In manufacturing, talent acquisition partners have to think critically about their companies’ employment branding compared to their competitors. For example, suppose you’re in a smaller, regional company looking to pull talent from more prominent, internationally known businesses. In this case, you’ll likely need to spend some time ensuring that the package you’re offering is attractive to candidates.

Ideally, this would include a higher base salary. If that’s not possible, there are other options. For instance, you can offer generous perk programs that increase employee flexibility, sign-on bonuses, or tuition reimbursement programs. Doing anything within your power to help sweeten the deal will elevate your competitiveness in your target market.

2. Be flexible with the required skills

If your company can’t match the total package your competitors provide, a great alternative is to reevaluate the skills that are necessary for your open roles. Many times, talent teams can find candidates who might be a little more junior than initially envisioned but possess the aptitude and drive to learn quickly.

In other words, look for someone you can upskill to fit the position’s needs. This practice can be an excellent opportunity to shape a more junior candidate into the skilled professional you need. After some time, they’ll likely be an even better fit than the candidate you initially hoped for. Perhaps more importantly, this strategy will also be friendlier to your budget.

3. Consider educational partnership opportunities

If you’re looking to hire entry-level talent, partnering extensively with local community colleges and reskilling and upskilling programs can be an excellent strategy for finding candidates and attracting them to your organization. Educational partnerships can help you build name recognition with the talent you need while they’re still going through education and training.

These relationships will enable you to let your future target employees know about opportunities within your company. They will also provide an extended period in which you can share your organization’s benefits and culture, further enticing these in-demand workers to join you rather than your competitors.

As supply chain and manufacturing companies continue to try to find tech-savvy candidates to fill important roles in their companies, the market will only become more competitive. Fortunately, adjusting your strategy — and, in some cases, your initial expectations — can improve your chances of recruiting the right people for your jobs and help make lasting changes within your company.

This article was originally published in Industry Today.

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About Tabatha Duckworth

Tabatha Duckworth leads an award-winning recruitment team at WilsonHCG. Tabatha’s team recruits across multiple industries globally, with a focus on hard-to-fill roles in life sciences. She loves partnering with industry-leading clients to solve their recruitment challenges and deliver a first-in-class recruitment experience.