As your "baby boomer" workforce retires, is the next generation ready to get in the game?

Hand with marker writing the word Millennials

There’s an increased need in today’s market for skilled workers in the manufacturing and service industries, and a gap in knowledge transfer due to an aging workforce. Simply put, there are more jobs in the skilled trades companies available than skilled workers, and those workers that are available may not have the training necessary to succeed.  

While job growth in the trades is a trend that bodes well for America’s ongoing economic recovery, it also means businesses face a talent gap as their workforce ages out and fewer young people choose a career in these fields. In 2012, the average tradesperson in the United States was 56 years old, retiring within 10 years, and taking 30+ years of knowledge and experience with them in the process.  

Forward-thinking companies know that talent is an integral part of strategic planning and is critical to remaining competitive in today’s talent marketplace.


Overcoming Misperceptions
In the 1970s, guidance counselors and career advisors began pushing higher education as the post-high school destination, and consequently, young people pursuing careers in the trades began its steady and continued decline. This trend continues today, and fewer teens and twenty-somethings elect a career path to become plumbers, electricians, welders or mechanics. As a result, businesses are stepping up their recruiting efforts to fill the more than 600,000 vacant positions – positions that are open because employers can’t find workers with the skills they need.


Creative Recruitment
According to Forbes magazine, to attract and retain top candidates, employers are implementing advanced recruiting techniques to improve their talent pipelines. For example, global forklift manufacturer Caterpillar, Inc., in partnership with Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, started a marketing campaign in 2013 aimed at promoting the skilled professions. The campaign, which includes print and TV ads, and a custom recruiting website is aimed at reaching parents and school counselors and is designed to change their way of thinking about skilled professions. To date, this effort increased candidate inquiries to Caterpillar by a whopping 400 percent.


Training to Perform
According to a 2012 survey conducted by Manpower Group, the third most common reason employers say they are having difficulty filling open positions is that applicants lack experience. As more and more companies look to bring on new employees, it is increasingly important to ensure superior knowledge and skills transfer to quickly and efficiently train employees. In fact, in the same survey, 28 percent of businesses report that in order to overcome the talent shortage, training existing staff is a key strategy to remaining competitive, while 36 percent plan to hire less-experienced workers who have high potential once trained.


Rapid advances in technology are transforming the workplace and changing the way people learn by impacting interpersonal communication and collaboration. Many businesses are implementing different technologies into their learning and development programs, and leveraging new technology to cut training costs, reduce carbon footprint and increase continual learning and knowledge transfer. Most excitingly, as referenced in a tED Magazine article, millenials are more astute in technology than any other generation. As a result, companies are responding by incorporating talent development programs that include such tools as web conferences, podcasts, online learning and more – technologies that evolve and support rapid knowledge acquisition.

Companies who invest in training their people will have a significant advantage in competing for – and keeping – the best and brightest employees.

What are you doing to advance your people’s performance? We’d love to know!

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