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MRT Insights

June 12, 2024

Manufacturing Industry Hiring Trends: Overview of the Industry

The manufacturing industry is at a crossroads, navigating both a boom time and significant staffing and recruiting issues amidst evolving manufacturing industry hiring trends. Recent technological advancements and rapid post-pandemic recovery have increased opportunities, yet they’ve also exacerbated challenges in filling crucial roles.

Among the good news is that the manufacturing sector is adding a record number of jobs. A year ago, Goldman Sachs estimated that  250,000 new manufacturing jobs would be created by 2025. The other side of this coin is manufacturers’ increasing difficulty in filling existing jobs, much less hiring for newly created positions. Deloitte has warned that more than  two million manufacturing jobs could be unfilled by 2030.

So, while the manufacturing industry is strong, staffing remains an ongoing concern. It’s a real “best of times, worst of times” situation. HR teams, recruiters, and hiring managers face unprecedented challenges, but job seekers will find plenty to be happy about in the manufacturing sector. Here’s a look at how we got to this current state of manufacturing hiring.

The Current State of the Manufacturing Industry

If you’ve followed business trends in any industry in the past few years, you know how technology has changed things. AI, robotics, and IoT (the Internet of Things) have transformed nearly every corner of the business world. The manufacturing industry is no exception.

AI and IoT allow for nearly automated defect detection and QC processes. IoT sensors, powered by machine learning algorithms, now generate predictive maintenance schedules to optimize production equipment use. Speaking of optimization, these same technologies now streamline supply chain operations like inventory management, demand forecasting, and shipping logistics.

On top of these private sector trends, the US government has prioritized manufacturing in the past few years. Critical pandemic recovery legislation, such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the CHIPS and Science Act, breathed new life into the manufacturing sector after it accounted for 90% of American job losses in 2020.

These events have placed manufacturing at the center of the US economy, which closed out 2023 with record job growth. But, as anyone tasked with staffing and recruiting in this market can tell you, hiring for manufacturing is as challenging as ever.

How Recent Trends Have Influenced Manufacturing Recruitment

Part of the reason for those hiring challenges is the shift in skill sets manufacturers are looking for. Knowledge and experience with robotics, IoT, digital transformation, and sustainable business practices are now high priorities. These skills are needed to help make Industry 4.0 smart factories — powered by AI, machine learning, IoT, and other technologies — a reality.

To help meet these needs, hiring managers and HR teams now look for candidates with a STEM education. This, in turn, has led to manufacturers forming partnerships with universities and other educational institutions. Internships and other work programs help manufacturing organizations find suitable STEM candidates. Partnering with education also helps manufacturers tailor the curriculum to the manufacturing industry’s needs.

Social media and other online platforms now play a part in the staffing process. After all, it makes sense to perform recruiting tasks where the tech-savvy STEM crowd is found. Social media also provides a chance for manufacturers to build a brand, which can improve a company’s reputation and help attract skilled workers. 

An online presence also helps promote a manufacturer’s diversity and inclusion policies. This is important because an overwhelming majority (83% in one poll) of Gen Z consider an employer’s commitment to such issues when deciding to accept a job offer. Recruiters might even use AI-powered tools to analyze candidate profiles to help find the best fit. 

What These Trends Mean for Manufacturers and Job Seekers

Given the rapid shifts in the manufacturing industry over the past few years, hiring managers and recruiters must stay on their toes. Keeping up with rapidly evolving trends is never easy. But given the recent trends, there’s plenty of reason to keep up. On the whole, the outlook for manufacturers is very positive. Technology, STEM, and new approaches to staffing have changed things so quickly that it can look like a disruption.

What you are actually witnessing is an industry in a boom time. Job seekers who might not have considered the manufacturing sector before may find something that turns their heads now. Candidates with a technology background or a STEM education will now find plenty of opportunities in the manufacturing sector. Developers and system administrators with machine learning, IoT, and digitization skills will be in high demand.

manufacturing industry trends

Meanwhile, traditional roles like machine operators, forklift drivers, logistics managers, sorters, pickers, and packers are all still needed. Many of these jobs may become vacant as manufacturing organizations upskill existing workers to fill the urgently needed tech roles.

So, even though it may take some new approaches, there’s never been a better time for manufacturers and job seekers than right now. To stay on top of the latest trends in manufacturing and a wide range of other industries, follow MRINetwork.

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