- August 11, 2021
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, Management
We’re in a hiring crunch in the United States, especially in the manufacturing industry. Yes, there are issues in the fast food and service-related industry, as people aren’t going back to work even as states end their unemployment support of $300 per week.
Many people blame the low salaries fast-food workers are getting (which is usually less than $300 per week) for the shortage, as people would rather stay at home for $300 than work hard for it. But even after the unemployment ended, the workers still aren’t returning.
This is not the case in manufacturing, however. Most manufacturing jobs pay $20 or more per hour ($800 per week), and the highly skilled jobs have six-figure salaries ($2,000+ per week). In our case, it’s truly a shortage of workers who can do the actual work. Believe me, no one in manufacturing is happy to sit at home for $300 per week when they can make that much in a day or two, especially with overtime.
So where can manufacturers fill some of these roles that they’re struggling to find qualified applicants for?
A great option is to start looking to retirees and people who may be struggling to find work because of their age. (Connecticut is already looking to fill manufacturing roles by hiring people over 50.)
There are plenty of people in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s who are still perfectly capable of working. And it’s the Baby Boomers who are the ones who have been whacked the hardest through the pandemic. Even if they didn’t work in a manufacturing environment during their career, that doesn’t mean they can’t do the job now.
If nothing else, the amount of accumulated life and work experience, as well as the wealth of knowledge in that age group, is pretty extensive. So don’t overlook them in favor of younger workers or university degrees.
If nothing else, older workers can help maintain your machines and do a lot of the lighter, non-backbreaking work that we used to have 30+ years ago. As many factories transition to a digital manufacturing operation, most of the work is done with the press of a button. And there’s no difference in button-pressing performance between a 25-year-old and a 65-year-old. Both can press that same button with the same efficiency.
They can also be your retired associates who left because they thought their time was up. Consider asking your retired associates to come back, even if it’s for a couple of days a week. They may be glad to get out of the house — or at least their spouses will — and you’ll definitely benefit by having those years of experience back under your roof.
This will also help you establish apprenticeships by putting a young associate with an older one. The younger associates get the benefit of the knowledge and experience being transferred to the older one, rather than losing it all just because your associates have retired.
You can also provide training for your older workers. If you have a clear vision of what you require from them and offer them the training to do the job well, chances are they’ll jump at the chance. You make the older associates part of your shop floor, development process, or organizational process, and they’ll help you to initiate seamless improvements.
And they can provide a workforce that’s happy to be there, willing to do the work, and you’ll have solved your labor shortage for a while.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business, including pivoting within their industry. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
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