By George Whittier, Morey president and COO
Your manufacturing company is probably feeling the effects of a talent gap, but the rest of the world is finally feeling them, too. Nearly half (46%) of global employers are struggling to find the skilled workers they need, with engineers leading the pack. The trend will only
continue, with as many as 2 million skilled manufacturing jobs going unfilled in the U.S. by 2025.
While manufacturers are in a tough spot for recruiting talent and growing their businesses, that doesn’t mean they should compromise when it comes to hiring and developing new engineering graduates. Manufacturers that seek young hires stand to gain a loyal workforce that wants job security and values opportunities for professional development.
With that in mind, I suggest you follow these best practices when hiring engineering grads:
Develop their skills before graduation
One of the best ways of ensuring engineering graduates have the skills your company needs is to develop them yourself. Internships and co-op programs enable engineering students to not only gain real-world manufacturing knowledge and skills, but also get a taste of your company’s culture, processes and expectations. If they exhibit a good attitude, fresh ideas and a willingness to learn, they’ll likely be a smart hire come graduation.
On the flip side, be hesitant about hiring new-graduate applicants with no co-op or internship experience under their belt. Graduates who weren’t motivated to seek this kind of experience will take longer to adjust to the workplace, especially given the modern popularity of internships and co-ops. 62% of the class of 2017 reported working an internship during college, compared with 50% in 2008.
Capitalize on tech expertise
As the newest entrants to the workforce, engineering graduates have the most up-to-date knowledge and training of cutting-edge IoT tech. And with global IoT spending predicted to reach $745 billion this year ($194 billion in the U.S. alone), this expertise will become increasingly important to your manufacturing company.
Since IoT devices generate vast amounts of data, engineering graduates must also be skilled in analysis and application. While experience with data analysis was once considered a niche specialty, it’s an expectation for today’s engineering graduates, who enter the workforce ready to hit the ground analyzing.
Increase efficiency with lean manufacturing skills
While lean manufacturing is longstanding best practice in operations management, it also is constantly evolving. Recent engineering graduates enhance your lean manufacturing skill set by bringing fresh eyes to your processes and spotting improvement opportunities that more seasoned employees have overlooked or ignored.
At the same time, remember that there are many types of processes and work that new grads haven’t experienced. Pair new hires with senior engineers to get them up to speed on expectations and needs.
Give recent graduates an opportunity to shine
A strong tech background and a good work ethic can help recent engineering graduates stand out, but they’re looking for a chance to put their skills to work right away. Smart manufacturing employers give new graduates opportunities to apply their insights and tech skills from day one. Dedicate part of the onboarding process to asking these hires about their long-term goals and specific interests, and then pair them with relevant tasks.
Likewise, it’s important to promote your company culture to recent grads from the start of the hiring process. While some employers tout amenities like ping-pong tables and a fancy lounge, young hires who feel their companies exhibit a high-trust culture are 22 times more likely to want to work there long-term.
With unemployment rates at historic lows, engineering graduates have choices when it comes to their next employers. Showcase the possibilities available to them, and highlight the value their unique perspectives and technical knowledge bring to your manufacturing team.