Despite a historic number of new hires, there are still approximately 700,000 job openings in the manufacturing sector. Furthermore, resignations have exceeded dismissals, indicating a greater employee turnover rate. The labor shortage is leading to a reduction in operational proficiency and profitability. Therefore, manufacturing employers must take steps to make their employee retention plans more successful.

The modern workforce craves more learning and development (L&D) opportunities. Today’s employees are willing to stay in their current position if it stretches their abilities and helps them learn new skills. Developing an internal talent management strategy can help manufacturing businesses retain and develop a modern and diverse workforce.

To begin, learning leaders can identify the skills and competencies that employees need and then assess the workforce against those to identify skills gaps. Then, they can implement the right training to the right worker depending on their training needs and career goals. When the employee sees that their organization is willing to invest in their future, they’ll be more likely to stay long term. In this article, we’ll evaluate how training can be a key driver in attracting and retaining manufacturing workers.

Attract Workers With L&D

At present, the efforts to draw people to manufacturing have not been effective. According to a survey by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the majority of manufacturing workers prefer jobs in other sectors like retail, services and technology. Research projects the U.S. manufacturing industry will have 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030. However fostering a learning culture and offering opportunities for L&D can help fix this.

Here are three initiatives that all manufacturing organizations should look to implement to develop their workforce:

  1. Manufacturing companies can offer workers education benefits and tuition reimbursement or certificates (which are meant to raise their fundamental level of proficiency as opposed to specific company abilities).
  2. L&D department can offer skills-based training on machinery, safety regulations, production techniques and standard operating procedures, and then revise that training every 6-12 months or if there are noteworthy adjustments to those procedures.
  3. Learning leaders can regularly test employees on policies and procedures in the employee handbook to ensure that everyone is working safely and effectively.

With these initiatives, learning leaders can leverage training and development opportunities to increase engagement and retention on their manufacturing teams.

Technical and Soft Skills Training

In today’s world of work, to ensure safety on the field, employers must implement effective technical skills training. Technical training includes educating workers on how to handle and operate production hardware and software — while gaining an intuition for what kinds of settings can lead to scrap or poor quality — and operating the user interfaces for various types of software and equipment. For it to truly be effective, technical training will need to be reinforced on the job to ensure learning transfer and application.

Having this type of corporate culture can help employees acquire transferable skills and fill roles internally. This cannot only help retain workers, but also ensure that your company has a workforce for tomorrow. Besides technical skills training, soft skills training can help front-line workers learn to interact and communicate better together and with customers. The importance of soft skills in the workplace is becoming increasingly recognized as a key to driver to better business outcomes.

When manufacturers and learning leaders prioritize the employee experience, they can reap the rewards of improved retention rates. To ensure this, manufacturers should focus on providing employee development and skills training to create a positive employee experience, therefore attracting top talent and retaining them for the long haul.