How Will You Recruit and Retain Young Manufacturing Talent?
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

With the Micron Technology announcement, we now know that Central and Upstate New York will be a fast-growing, high-tech manufacturing hub. Over the next decade, thousands of new manufacturing jobs will be created. This means hiring young talent will become the key to long-term success.

Consider these facts as you prepare for the future of manufacturing here in our community. By 2025, there will be an estimated 3.5 million new manufacturing jobs in the U.S. As predicted by Deloitte, most will center around advancing technology which will only increase the demand for highly skilled and specialized talent. Currently, we are likely to fill only about 1.5 million of these jobs. This will leave a skills gap of about 2.1 million quality, well-paying jobs. As you probably know, we already have thousands of manufacturing job openings right now in Central and Upstate New York. This will only grow over next few years.

According to the same report, by 2030, an estimated 2.6 million Baby Boomers will retire from their jobs in manufacturing, further compounding the labor challenge. This is at a time when 89% of manufacturers in the U.S. are now considering reshoring jobs which will allow them to reduce the risk, and the increasing costs, of their supply chains.

These trends also point to our members acting now to provide a pathway into their job openings. It will take creativity and real effort, but there are proven ways to make manufacturing appeal to a broader range of potential talent who have not yet considered our industry. Successful companies have reduced their openings and found great talent using the approaches such as mentoring, Registered Apprenticeship, family assistance, financial incentives, and training/development investments.

Mentoring programs are an inexpensive and effective way to engage younger employees through building connections and developing their skills. A study at Sun Microsystems found that employees with a mentor were more than five times more likely to get a raise and six times more likely to get promoted than those without a mentor. It is also a great way to develop the mentors who did even better in terms of raises and promotions.

This same study also found benefits to retention, with 72% of mentors and 69% of those with mentors sticking around, compared to 49% of those not participating in the program. This is one of the best ways to attract, train, and retain talent. Through our Registered Apprenticeship programs we help companies build mentorship into the heart of the skilling and upskilling effort. Mentorship can be built into many approaches companies use to hire and retain talent.

Another way to hire and retain is to build some flexibility and family assistance in the workplace. Flexibility means different things to different people. For young candidates, it may mean having access to childcare. A company can offer childcare on-location or reimbursements that make a big difference. To others, it might mean having the option to trade shifts or switch to a new shift as dictated by their current life situation. Creative employers find what their employees value most and develop flexibility options with ideas from their employees.

Taking any new job can feel like a big decision, but sometimes all it takes is a little push in the right direction. Offering sign-on bonuses, providing financial incentives based on hitting production targets, or even relocation funds can help overcome hesitation and make candidates feel more valued.

Younger candidates have aspirations but aren’t yet qualified for them. Making a commitment to train and invest in them is an excellent way to motivate and retain them while grooming them for more complex and skilled roles. Creating a Registered Apprenticeship effort within your company is the best way to attract and retain talent. MACNY is a nationally recognized leader in helping companies of all sizes start and maintain apprenticeship programs. Learn more about our programs at

And don’t shy away from telling younger workers and other candidates considering a career change about the programs you offer at your company. Prominently displaying this on your website and recruiting material can make all the difference in the world.

Also, remember this when recruiting younger workers. Younger workers don’t even remember a world before their smartphones. And many started to enter the workforce at a time when “essential workers” were finding themselves in the spotlight. High-tech and manufacturing workers are essential workers. This generation, and many in other age groups, want to make a difference and have a passion for their work. These individuals are primed for the message that manufacturing offers a creative, fulfilling career doing honest work that benefits their communities and needs to be done. You, our members, offer just these kinds of jobs.

Given the changes coming to our Central and Upstate New York region, it’s time to update and develop new strategies. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our team members who can help you learn what is working. We can help you create your own successful hiring and retention approaches.