How Can the Manufacturing Industry Attract Talent? Start at an Early Age

July 10, 2017

By Cherie Shepard, Director of Packaging, Material Handling & Food Processing

Hiring and retaining skilled Material Handling, Packaging and Processing workers is top of mind for executives across most industries today. A recent article by Hunt Scanlon cited that 90% of executives surveyed stated that retaining new hires is an issue for their companies, while they also said that 10 to 25% of new hires leave within six months. With the increase in automation in various areas, this issue has become prevalent in the Manufacturing industry. On top of the challenges of hiring and retaining a skilled workforce, an EMSI forecast showed that about 22% of the 2015 tech labor pool will turn over by 2025 due to retirements and departures (DC Velocity article). A combination of retention issues, turnover, and a low number of recent graduates in the field is creating a need for all engineering disciplines.

How can this be fixed? Companies across industries are working to find ways to introduce manufacturing to students early and encourage careers in the industry. Getting students interested in technology needs to start at an early age. With the preconceived notions that all manufacturing floors are uncomfortable, unpleasant and dirty, teaching kids the dynamics of equipment and automation should help foster the idea of a technical future. From industry-related educational support, to internships, companies are leading the way to build the workforce of manufacturing.

Hanel Storage Systems, a leader in the manufacture and integration of vertical storage units, donated an automated storage retrieval system (AS/RS), the RotomatÒ to Western Guilford High School in Greensboro, North Carolina. This equipment is used for education and demonstrations for the Logistics Education Department at the school and for students to learn about warehousing and supply chain management. In addition, Hanel also donated a RotomatÒ  to the Vincennes University Logistics Training & Education Center in Plainfield, Indiana. This generous donation will help college students in Supply Chain Logistics Management to gain real-world experience with equipment and technology that today’s workforce is using, as well as hands-on experience.

Both donations of the RotomatÒ were made through the Material Handling Industry (MHI), the largest association in the United States dedicated to the promotion and education of the material handling, logistics and supply chain industry. Angela Jenkins, Director, Career & Technical Education at Material Handling Industry (MHI) said, “Within my 2.5 year tenure at MHI, Hanel Storage Systems has donated equipment to 40+ high school and community colleges with material handling, logistics and supply chain programs. They continue to be a true example of industry-education partnership continuing to provide resources in building the workforce of today and tomorrow.”

Jenkins also mentioned how Material Handling Industry (MHI) promotes the material handling, logistics, and supply chain industry to the younger generation in various ways. In addition to providing equipment for material handling, logistics and supply chain programs, Hanel along with other member companies provide resources and sponsorship at the Student Days Program for MHI’s MODEX and ProMat tradeshows. These tradeshows entail an average of 800+ exhibitors with a wide range of technologies, which is opened to guided exploration for students and faculty participating in the program.

Students Days is a two-day event which provides over 200 students from high schools, Community Colleges and Universities across the country the opportunity to meet with exhibitors on guided tours, learn about technology, network with industry experts and tour real world applications at local state-of-the-art facilities. Companies such as Hanel Storage Systems volunteer as an exhibitor tour location, provide a tour guide for the students and participate in target industry awareness programming for all student attendees. Hanel Storage Systems sponsors the network reception event at Student Days.  This allows student attendees to interact one-on-one with industry representatives in a more conducive environment.

Not only are companies making strides to attract young people to manufacturing through scholarships and educational donations, but some are offering internship programs. As an example, Bizerba, a leading solution provider for weighing, slicing and weigh-price-labeling technologies, offers an internship program annually. Bizerba provides interns with an overall look at their business operations, industry, and culture to the college students involved. In addition, interns are rotated through different departments to understand the entire business operation, gain practical experience and improved understanding of the business mentality. Bizerba has found this program to be mutually beneficial to introduce the next generation of workers to their industry.

Direct Recruiters, Inc. (DRI), an executive search firm specializing in Material Handling, Packaging, and Food Processing, has placed importance on encouraging young adults, specifically high school students to aim their career track towards getting jobs in these in-demand tech positions. DRI recently awarded a financial scholarship to a graduating Solon High School student planning to further his or her education towards the technical and engineering fields.  Students were also required to have at least a 3.5 GPA and write an essay explaining why they chose the technical or engineering field. Cherie Shepard, Director of Material Handling, Packaging, & Food Processing for DRI said, “We introduced the idea of a scholarship to give back to the community and to focus on those with technical aspirations. While reading the essays by the high school students, we were amazed by their experiences. These 24 applicants are the future and they have the ability to change the world.”

Another area of opportunity to introduce new talent to the Packaging, Material Handling, and Manufacturing industry is to provide flexible education options. The Packaging School, founded by Dr. Andrew Hurley, Professor of Packaging Science, Clemson University, was developed to provide specialized education to students in degree tracks outside of packaging. The Certificate of Packaging Science is an online program that breaks down the barriers to packaging education and lifts the veil on this vital and complex discipline. This is an excellent opportunity for companies to sponsor students and create apprenticeships geared towards engaging young talent.

With a challenge in the current workforce landscape in Manufacturing and Material Handling, it is so important for companies to play their part in introducing new talent to the industry and growing the number of skilled workers.

David Peterson Recaps the Plastics News Executive Forum

April 11, 2017

By David Peterson, Managing Partner and Director of Plastics and Flexible Packaging

At the end of March, I had the great opportunity to attend and speak at the Plastics News Executive Forum at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples, Florida. As it was my first time attending, I want to note that Plastics News did a great job coordinating this conference, which offered strategies, presentations, and networking opportunities for leaders of top plastics processing companies.

Aside from the sunshine and beautiful scenery, the Plastics News Executive Forum impressed me from the speakers, to the great conversations about the industry. The theme of the conference this year was “Engage. Inspire. Lead.” and the agenda stayed consistent with that, buzzing with conversation regarding the Plastics workforce, retention, and talent in the industry. For example, Laurie Harbour, President/CEO of Harbour Results Inc., shed a light on the top challenges for Plastics Processors in 2017, sharing that 92% say their top challenge is recruiting, training and retaining employees. Part of the reason for this could be the decrease of Plastics Engineer professionals. This is something that was discussed often throughout the conference, along with the ways companies can contribute to solving that issue. For example, the Best Places to Work Panel gave great ideas for retention, with one being a “bring your parents to work day.”

For me, the conference was especially exciting as I had the honor of presenting! My topic was “How to Attract and Retain a New Generation of Workers” and primarily focused on Millennials and what we can do as companies to bring them into the Plastics Industry and keep them there. Again, this fell in line with most of the buzz at the conference. It was a great experience to speak at this event! Plastics News wrote an article highlighting my presentation here:  Solving the Millennial Riddle

Finally, I want to congratulate to the Processors of the Year finalists, and the Best Places to Work Award Winners!

The Plastics News Executive Forum was a great event and a great experience this year. I’m looking forward to next year’s event!  If you were at the event, what did you enjoy the most?

David Peterson

David Peterson
Managing Partner and Director of Plastics & Flexible Packaging
dpeterson@directrecruiters.com
(440) 996-0590

The Value of Research In Executive Recruiting

January 20, 2016

By Adam Ulmen, Researcher, DRI

The executive recruiting industry is faced with the ever-growing challenge of identifying and securing top talent across industries. The ability to allocate sufficient time toward appropriate tasks has plagued talent search professionals for years. A common set of questions facing recruiters looks something like: “How much time to spend looking for qualified candidates, how best to search for said candidates, how many candidates should be identified to make placements, how many hours should I spend on the phones each day to be successful…” and so on. There never seems to be enough time in the day to finish everything that needs to be done, however this problem can be alleviated with the development of a sort of support structure; a proper research team.

The value of investing in research cannot be overstated. Implementing a dedicated team of research specialists into an organization is an exceptional way to take your firm to new heights. Many recruiters in the industry find themselves juggling candidate sourcing, research, business intelligence, and new business development on a daily basis, just to name a few. A major value that dedicated researchers bring to a team is that the researcher can take a massive burden off of the recruiter’s shoulders. Research teams can take on all of the candidate sourcing, database building, and other related activities for a team of recruiters, thus freeing up substantial time for the recruiter to focus on the primary activities that result in providing a superior recruitment experience for all parties involved.

The amount of time saved on the recruiter’s end is significant when a research support structure is in place. Conservative estimates might place overall time saved between 1-2 hours per day, per recruiter, as the researcher is dedicated to taking on those time-intensive activities that the recruiter used to have to do on their own. Researchers may also conduct a lot of the legwork involved in the day to day operations of a recruiting team from something as simple as keeping updated records all the way to helping with new business development and new technology management and implementation. Taken together, these research activities time-savings translate into the recruiters being able to invest more time in building relationships with clients, providing employment and business solutions, and generating direct revenue activities which, in turn, results in a more successful practice.

What Are Some Skills it Takes to be a Successful Researcher?

Excellent Communication: In order to be a successful researcher, excellent communication skills are paramount. You need to know what is going on with your team and be able to react accordingly to ever-changing priorities. If you don’t know what is going on, how can you be an effective part of the team?

Creative Thinking: Many of the tasks a researcher undertakes require a great deal of consideration and thought. Oftentimes, you will have to get creative when trying to accomplish goals, such as when a search is especially difficult. There is always an avenue to your goal, you just have to be able to think outside of the box sometimes to find it.

Perseverance: Sometimes things get exceptionally difficult and there seems to be no clear end in sight. It is these times where being able to rise up against adversity will set your levels above your competition in this industry.

Ability to Dig Deep: In recruiting research, the bulk of the job is to find the best candidates to fill job searches. It is also your job not to simply plug in some keywords and throw resumes on the recruiter’s desks. It is a far more difficult task than that. A researcher needs to dig deep and go through the process of utilizing all of the resources in order to uncover the cream of the crop. This gives your team the best chance of completing the search.

Understanding of Research Methodology/Technology: A good recruiting firm will have extensive resources available to their team. These resources include technologies to help find candidates as well as training to develop the research skill set. Being able to understand how to best approach research and utilize technologies/established methods is invaluable to your success as a researcher.

Independence: While researchers are assigned searches to work on, there can be a large degree of independence required of you to carry out those searches. Micro-management aside, you will need to be able to establish a work regimen that is organized and goal-oriented in order to be the best researcher you can. You need to be able to work alone with little guidance, as well as with your team.

Expert Knowledge: Perhaps the most important thing a researcher can do to ensure success is to develop exceptional knowledge of their field. Knowledge truly is power, and being more than conversant in your field will set you leagues above the competition when it comes fulfilling your responsibilities.

If you find the career of researcher interesting, let us know.             We always look for top talent to join our companies of DRI & DCA.