It’s mid-November and now that the Halloween candy is finally gone, it’s the official start of the holiday season! The months of November and December are a magical time when we begin shopping, planning celebrations with friends and families, reflecting on the year past, and looking forward to the new year. 

But as we near 2020, do you find yourself thinking more about Black Friday sales, or worrying about your recruitment strategy and where you are going to find the right people to fill your open positions?

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, nearly half a million manufacturing jobs are unfilled in the U.S. today, primarily due to a shortage of skilled workers in our existing workforce. Another concern on the mind of manufacturers: the fact that 27% of the workforce is age 55 or over. Not only do you have to think about filling open positions in 2020, but you also need to plan for a groundswell of workers retiring over the next 10 years or so. This is even more problematic when you realize most parents are not encouraging their millennial or Gen Z children to pursue careers in manufacturing.

With a growing labor shortage and changing workforce demographics, manufacturers need to rethink their approaches for talent acquisition and talent retention.

Here are four alternative labor pools to help you start thinking outside of the box when it comes to potential sources of skilled talent:


  1.  Caregivers – A recent report from the Harvard Business School stated that 32 percent of all employees have voluntarily left a job during their career due to caregiving responsibilities. Not only are there costs associated with turnover, but employers also incur costs related to absenteeism, tardiness, and lost productivity as a result of caregivers being distracted at work when no benefits were provided. Realizing this, Promega, a leading manufacturer of enzymes and other products for biotech and molecular biology, introduced a caregiver leave benefit that provides employees with an additional two weeks of paid time off a year to care for a sick parent, spouse, or child. This has led to higher retention at their organization.
  2. The formerly incarcerated – According to the United States Department of Justice, more than 650,000 ex-offenders are released from prison every year and unfortunately, many of them will have hard time finding work. But when the labor market is as tight as it is now, manufacturers need to consider non-traditional sources of talent. When Stoughton Trailers, a manufacturer of truck trailers, was faced with open positions that they just couldn’t fill, they tried the regular tactics: raise pay, offer referral bonuses, expanded their in-house training program but with little success. It wasn’t until a recruiter for the company found a solution: a work-release program for minimum-security inmates that was voluntary and paid full market wages. During this program, inmates had a chance to build up savings and learn vocational skills. Not only did Stoughton Trailers fill their critical positions, they also helped the rehabilitated inmates assimilate to life after prison.
  3.  Disabled individuals – There are 2.5 million autistic adults living in the U.S. and of that number, 80-90%  are unemployed. Companies have found that autistic and neuro-diverse individuals have really high productivity rates and special skills like memorizing and learning information quickly and tend to excel in areas such as science, engineering, and mathematics as they are technical and logical subjects that do not heavily rely on social interaction. Realizing the potential of this mostly untapped workforce, Chevron Corporation hired a consultant to start a program for hiring autistic and neuro-diverse individuals for their IT team in Houston. 
  4.  Veterans – The latest Employment Situation of Veterans Summary released by the United States Department of Labor, highlighted that there are over 326,000 unemployed veterans in the US.  Koch industries, faced with a growing talent gap, decided it was time to consider sources outside of their traditional labor pool, and turned to veterans. The U.S. military is brimming with hardworking, knowledgeable, and adaptable individuals capable of answering the call for skilled workers. In fact, 83% of military fields naturally aligned to positions across Koch. Once they realized this, it became their mission to match veteran skills to their open positions. 


Ready to Fill Your Open Positions with a Mix of Alternative Labor?


Now that you are thinking about which other potential sources of talent might work for your  organization, here are few things you can do to get ready:

  • Gain visibility and leverage reporting to help identify potential gaps in skills allowing you to proactively plan
  • Utilize HR analytics to address root causes of turnover allowing for more strategic recruiting practices
  •  Post job requisitions with a human resources solution that lets you build a custom career site that offers integration with a network of 8,000+ job boards
  • Leverage human capital management technology partners that help you optimize the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit for employers who hire and retain ex-felons, veterans, and individuals from other target groups with significant barriers to employment

Check out this Simple Guide to Recruiting eBook to learn more about how recruiting technology can help you start 2020 strong by hiring the best-fit candidates for your organization.


Published: Friday, November 15, 2019