How Manufacturing Will Be a Technology-Shaped Magnet for Millennials and Gen Z

on April 1, 2016

Manufacturing may no longer struggle to attract new talent to replace the aging workforce. Here’s how things are changing.

automotive supply chainUp until now, manufacturing has had a reputation for being a rather dirty environment filled with boring, tedious jobs. This is about as far away as you can get from the interests of the younger workforce – Millennials and Gen Z – who are completely focused on technology and creativity.

This is a big reason why the manufacturing labor force has suffered recently and is forecasted to get worse. As baby boomers retire, there aren’t enough new and skilled people coming in to replace them. There is a skills gap that makes experts estimate 2 million unfulfilled jobs by 2025.  Manufacturing doesn’t have the appeal to the younger generation.

Until now.

Every manufacturing forecast for 2016 points to this pivotal shift in the industry – one that puts more focus on technology than manual labor. With futuristic solutions becoming more affordable and mainstream, manufacturers are changing their look and appeal to the younger generations.

One of the most significant advancements is 3D printing. In Global Manufacturing’s “REPORT: 2016 to be a ‘tipping point’ for manufacturing technology,” Guy Bieber, director of strategy and architecture at Citrix explains,

“A number of things are going to happen over the next few years as the industry changes. For instance, 3D printing in many materials and simple electronics will enable customization and manufacturing to come closer to the point of consumption, leading to more distributed and custom manufacturing work.

“By 2016, manufacturing jobs will start to shift around more intricate work, including the training and maintaining of robots, as well as working on optimizing manufacturing processes.”

Robotics are another part of the new face of manufacturing. They are replacing manual low-paid work, but they open the door for highly skilled engineers to develop software and write code. GE is currently running several humorous ads in which a software developer gets his first job out of college at GE, and everyone is confused by his role because the company is a well-known manufacturer.

In’s “Forecasting Manufacturing Trends for 2016,” Jake Meister addresses how companies like GE are changing the way the younger generation perceives them: “Forward-thing [sic] companies will attempt to change how the public perceives them by stressing how innovative the industry has been—with its impact on IoT being a prime example. Using the new image, companies will attempt to bring in the talented workers that have generally gravitated toward Silicon Valley.”

Advanced technologies in logistics, security, and analytics are also a big part of the shift in manufacturing that is promising to attract young talent. With a new appeal, the industry has a great chance of overcoming the labor shortage and providing great jobs for generations to come.

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