2013 was apparently a good year for manufacturing, with strong sales nationwide and an increased interest by investors. Many leading manufacturers are planning to increase their staff, however, it may not be as easy as they think, and certainly not as easy as dropping an ad in the local paper and calling it a day. Of course, when was the last time it was that easy?
While manufacturing was on the decline in the U.S. for some time, the silver lining to a weakened dollar is more manufacturing jobs are staying stateside again. This means more jobs, necessitating more workers. The Institute for Supply Management survey of its manufacturing members found they expect to increase staffing by an average of 2.4% next year. Revenues are projected to rise by an average of 4.6%. The survey also found 44% of manufacturing ISM members foresee better conditions ahead.
“Manufacturing purchasing and supply executives expect to see continued growth in 2014. They are optimistic about their overall business prospects for the first half of 2014, and are even more optimistic about the second half of 2014,” said Bradley J. Holcomb, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.
While the presence of so many new jobs sounds great, it’s only useful if people can be found to work them. And apparently finding employees is much more difficult than it was. Managers and CEOs all are concerned over the difficulty of finding the skilled workforce these jobs require.
“Whether it’s due to more conservative hiring practices, changing demographics or negative perceptions of manufacturing jobs, the demand for high-skill labor is growing faster than supply,” writes Pradeep Amladi, Vice President, Discrete Manufacturing Industries, SAP.
Of course, this comes as no surprise to Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs, the Foundation of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl. In a past survey of teenagers about their perception of manufacturing and potential interest in a manufacturing career, the foundation discovered is that 52% of the teens had little interest in manufacturing and 21% were ambivalent. Their interest was in white collar careers.
A whitepaper issued by the trade group flatly declared, “Manufacturers simply cannot find the skilled labor needed today to handle the kinds of sophisticated production processes and tasks required on the manufacturing shop floor.”
Industrial engineers are the most in-demand occupation in the manufacturing sector,” Wanted Analytics noted on its blog. “Fist-line Supervisors of Production Workers, Marketing Managers, Applications Software Developers, and Sales Representatives (Wholesale and Manufacturing) filled out the top 5 manufacturing occupations.”
The Candidate Problem
So what does that mean for your company? Be prepared for candidates to be calling more of the shots. Basically, if you want the best, you’re going to have to pay for it. They know they’re in demand.
Recruiters who responded to the most recent MRINetwork Recruiter Sentiment Study provide cautionary advice to employers who haven’t yet awakened to the new reality. “I have been recruiting for nearly 11 years and I have never seen the market more candidate-driven than it is now. Candidates have choices and ‘A’ players are being heavily courted,” said a recruiter responding to the study. According to the report, in the second half of 2013, 79% of recruiters described the labor market as candidate-driven, up 12 percentage points from a year ago. Also according to the study, 42% of candidates refused job offers as a result of accepting an offer with another company, up from 33% in the first half of 2013.
What can you do about it? Not much, other than be prepared for it. Make sure you can convince new talent why your company is a great place to work. Also, don’t drag your feet on the hiring process. Make sure it’s streamlined. A great looking candidate isn’t going to wait around for you to make up your mind.
Also, make sure your salary and benefits packages are top notch. Because if yours aren’t, you can bet someone else’s are and that’s who the candidates going to go with. Plus, your package needs to be able to resist the lure of a counteroffer. Even though we always tell candidates to avoid the counteroffer, the truth is, they don’t always listen. And with the difficulty in finding top tier talent, you can bet there’s going to be a counter offer. Make sure you can beat it.
So while it may seem like doom and gloom for trying to fill all those wonderful new jobs, the truth is, it’s a sign of a recovering economy. So at least there’s that to look forward to. And of course, if you need help finding some top notch help, we specialize in direct hires and contract hiring in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas.