Manufacturers are still experiencing a talent shortage, reports Michael DeNunzio, a consultant with Aon's Human Capital Solutions and leader of the Transportation and Mobility industry sector for Assessment Solutions in North America. But there are strategies to resolve it.
The “shortage hasn’t changed dramatically from last year—it’s still been challenging for these companies to fill roles,” DeNunzio explains. “Firms need to be creative in recruiting new talent and upskilling existing talent, in order to address the needs and challenges of the current business climate.”
Despite all the layoff news of 2023, “many if not most companies are still hiring and are in growth or at least maintenance mode,” DeNunzio says. “They are not laying off. They are focused on reducing turnover.”
To help companies hire and retain employees, DeNunzio along with Mike Ungar, cofounder of the Industry 4.0 Club and a FocalPoint business and executive coach, explore potential strategies during the June 15 IME East session, “The Skills Required for Success in Industry 5.0.”
DeNunzio says the presentation helps managers identify the skills needed in new employees. “Managers are familiar with what it took to be successful traditionally, before the rapid advance of technology. We are going to explore what skills used to be important and still are and what new skills are needed for success today.”
Ungar highlights one aspect of Industry 5.0 as the integration of people with technology, including the collaboration among humans, robots, and now AI. Ungar previously worked for Michelin (for 35 years) coaching teams from all business areas, including an assignment as director of corporate recruiting.
“When I started working, we had one computer in the plant,” Ungar recounts. Even though today’s plants are digital, “in hindsight, the skills and competencies needed today aren’t that different from when I started,” he says, highlighting the importance of learnability, agility, and curiosity. “Learnability, for self-improvement; agility, for adaptability as the speed of change today is at different pace; and curiosity, for seeking out what’s going on, not letting things come to you,” he says.
“Manufacturing managers also need employees with an orientation toward STEM, as they need to be comfortable around equipment,” Ungar continues. But specific skills may not always be a requirement. “If a candidate has competencies and a willingness to learn, companies can train them. Ideally, I would want to have associates who have some of the digital skills and competencies about which we will be speaking.”
The challenge, Ungar says, is learning to recognize these skills in candidates. And, adds DeNunzio, to be able to “comprehensively assess candidates.”
But the payoff is huge. “If you have rigor in your talent search and evaluation, you’ll have better results in retention,” DeNunzio says. “It all comes down to determining what is needed for success in that job and measuring your candidates accurately on these things.”
DeNunzio says that basic screening includes considering core capabilities, learning mindsets, and core foundational skills that can be built upon, he says, followed by more probing into specific skills.
Ungar suggests employing an assessment tool, as it “takes out the inherent bias we all have. Combining assessments with behavior-based questions helps an interviewer assess what a candidate has learned. It is important to listen for real stories and examples,” he says.
Many companies are also moving to “skills-based hiring” in order to determine whether “candidates have experience doing something or can do something rather than just requiring that they have a degree,” adds DeNunzio. Thanks to DEI programs, there is more effort to recognize hidden talent and skills in candidates who haven’t gotten degrees and to look at their potential, he says. Talent assessment tools are the best way to do this, he adds, as they rely on objective data and scientific practices. “Rather than having many ‘exclusion criteria’ in the recruitment process like required degrees or years of experience,” he says, “using talent assessments can make recruitment more inclusive and give hidden or overlooked talent an opportunity to show their potential.”
Top companies are also using “job simulations,” DeNunzio says, which entail putting a candidate through a realistic sample of the job. “We can create a virtual environment to put candidates in scenarios that look like the actual job and measure their competency in responding.”
For more ideas, join DeNunzio and Ungar and bring your questions to IME East on June 15 for the session, “The Skills Required for Success in Industry 5.0.”
IME East brings together Design & Manufacturing (D&M) East, Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) East, Automation Technology (ATX) East, Plastec East, EastPack, and Quality Expo East. Attendees will find educational sessions, more than 300 exhibitors, networking and career-enhancing opportunities, and much more. The tradeshow will be held June 13-15 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.