How Millennials Are Changing the Manufacturing Industry

Millennials entering manufacturing ground their skills in the digital environment in which they grew up, giving them an advantage when working with software-driven systems, including IoT and robotics.

Manufacturing
is a challenging business. It requires a great deal of capital, loans,
engineering expertise, and all the miscellaneous must-haves, such as surety bonds and insurance. Yet, in many ways,
the manufacturing industry helped build the U.S. and create a prosperous middle
class—and from the Greatest Generation to the millennial workers of today,
American manufacturing workers have held fast to that dream. 

Today’s
manufacturing industry looks a lot different from the one of decades past, but
manufacturing is still a vital part of the American business landscape. As the
manufacturing industry tackles the challenges of the 21st century, millennials
are beginning to put their own stamp on the industry in all kinds of ways. Here
are five ways that millennials are making big changes in the manufacturing
workplace as they come into their own.

See also: How Machine Learning Is Shaping a New Manufacturing Era

1) Many millennials see
manufacturing as a high-tech career with a good salary potential

According
to one digital manufacturer’s survey, 37 percent of
millennials see manufacturing
as a high-tech career. (Only 27 percent of generation X and
23 percent of baby boomers had the same perception.) That means that
millennials seem to have a more accurate appraisal of today’s manufacturing
industry than their older counterparts—modern manufacturing is a high-tech career that involves
integrating disciplines such as programming, engineering, and AI.

Although
the tech sector remains the most attractive target for many millennials, the
increasing overlap of technology and manufacturing has created a new type of prestigious
“new-collar” manufacturing jobs
. Many of today’s manufacturing
workers oversee complex operations that produce high-value goods like
semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment.

The
manufacturing industry is also appealing to many millennials because of the
relatively high pay. For high-skilled jobs such as process engineering and
product design, salaries are often over $70,000 per year, which puts them on
pace with those of other
upper-income millennial occupations
such as data analysis and
marketing.

2) Millennials with manufacturing
skills are in high demand

The
manufacturing industry has many skilled older workers who will soon retire. The
industry will need younger workers to step up and fill those positions, but,
unfortunately, there’s a limited
supply of millennials
with the STEM skills to do it. Despite the aforementioned
reappraisal of the manufacturing industry by some millennials, the most
talented younger STEM majors are still often drawn away from manufacturing by
the allure of the technology sector.

Manufacturers
are working to retool their recruitment strategies to attract a workforce of
talented young people. They’re implementing an increasing range of solutions
designed to pull in a younger workforce, from mentorship programs to expanded
benefits packages. It should go without saying that in order to procure these
talented and hard-working employees, businesses will also have to ensure
they’ve acquired all of the correct credentials for their industry, such as surety bonds and relevant certifications.

3) Millennials are digital natives
who bring a fresh perspective to manufacturing challenges

Millennials
in the manufacturing industry often ground their skills in the digital
environment in which they grew up. That gives them an advantage when working
with software-driven systems, including IoT and robotics, and it can also give
them an impressive knack for innovation.

That’s
why new-collar jobs, which integrate the factory floor with the engineering
department, can be such a good fit for millennials. Already adept at navigating
digital spaces and learning new software applications, millennials can quickly
become workplace MVPs who are able to bring all of the latest tools to bear on
a difficult problem.

Millennials’
facility with digital systems also means that they use mobile devices and
cloud-based collaboration software more often at work. Employers should also
remember that statistics show that over 70 percent of
millennials

use technology as a deciding factor for accepting a job offer, meaning that
businesses must keep their technological capacity up to date if they want to
attract these digital natives’ skills.

4) Millennials see their career trajectories as an evolving conversation with employers

In
the past, the U.S.’s manufacturing laborers often held lifelong or multi-decade
tenure at a single firm, such as General Motors or 3M. For millennials, that’s
increasingly not the case—a Gallup study found that they change jobs
approximately three times as often
as members of other generations and
that nearly half of millennial employees don’t see themselves staying at their
job for another year.

The
new reality is that younger workers are unlikely to remain at a job that
doesn’t offer them new challenges and opportunities. For many of these workers,
it’s all about personal development and the pursuit of a more fulfilling life
that allows them to use their talents in the places where they’ll make the most
difference.

Manufacturing
employers who want to attract and retain millennial talent will need a renewed
commitment to fostering mutual loyalty between management and employees.
Creating a welcoming and diverse workplace culture, providing generous health
insurance and PTO, and offering opportunities for career advancement are all
important steps for building a millennial-friendly manufacturing workplace.

5) Millennials are bringing back the unionized workplace

In
the 21st century, the power of American manufacturing labor unions has fallen
substantially from their early- and mid-20th century heyday, but millennial
workers are showing an increasing interest in returning unions to their former
place of pride in America’s workplaces. In a 2016 Pew Research study,
three-quarters of surveyed individuals ages 18 to 29 had a positive view of
labor unions
,
and the head of the AFL-CIO reported that 75 percent of the
union’s new members in 2017
were under the age of 35.

It
won’t be an easy fight to bring unions back to manufacturing. In many U.S.
states, the legal climate has become unfriendly to organized labor. In
addition, the higher-income, tech-focused jobs that represent the biggest
growth in manufacturing have traditionally been more difficult to unionize.
With skilled professionals such as nurses now unionizing in many states, it’s
certainly possible that a comeback in organizing might be on the horizon.

Last
word

As
millennials begin their careers in earnest, they’re entering an uncertain world
that’s fraught with numerous challenges but also ripe with many opportunities.
Fortunately, it increasingly appears that this generation is prepared to meet
the challenges and help bring manufacturing into a new era.

This UrIoTNews article is syndicated fromRTInsight