How to Train Millennials for Manufacturing Careers

How to Train Millennials for Manufacturing Careers

Dec. 23, 2014
While millennials will fill upcoming vacant manufacturing jobs,  drawing them into industry and simultaneously understanding how they work is a huge challenge for manufacturers.

With 2.7 million manufacturing employees expected to retire in the next eight years, according to NAM, the search is on for the new workers.

While millennials will fill these positions, drawing them into industry and simultaneously understanding how they work is a huge challenge for manufacturers.

In a series on how manufacturers are attracting workers, Leo Boselovic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, talked to manufacturers across the state. 

“Millennials like to see results right now,”  said Scott Covert, who runs an in-house training program at Penn United Technologies, a Butler County tool-and-die shop that employs about 600.

To that requires online courses and lots of hands-on work where students learn practical applications of theory, says Boselovic.

He points out that some educational institutions are already providing such training.

At Beaver County Community College, which offers a number of manufacturing-related degrees, getting and keeping millennials engaged means using 3-D printers, laser cutters and other equipment that puts a finished product in students’ hands quickly. The products include 3-D printed plastic molds used to make chocolate candies featuring the school’s logo.

“These students are so used to instant gratification. This feeds right into their personality,” said Mike Aikens, a natural science and technology professor. “We have to connect with them. They are digital natives.”

One of the classes Mr. Aikens teaches was developed through National Science Foundation grants promoting science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, skills. The grants fund workshops where teachers learn how to teach other teachers how to incorporate lessons in those subjects into a semester-long class where students make custom-designed electric guitars.

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About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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