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Yates’ Approach to Navigating the Aging Workforce in Manufacturing

November 27, 2013

As a business heavily invested and involved in the manufacturing sector, Yates has a keen interest in the challenges our industry faces, and the ways in which manufacturing is changing and adapting to technology and an increasing global trade and labor network . One of the things we’ve noticed (and we’re certainly not the only ones) is that many of the manufacturers we deal with employ mostly people of the baby-boomer generation. In fact, on some recent tours of our facility, we’ve gotten several comments about the presence of young faces on our floor, as opposed to the mostly older demographic that was expected.

We haven’t invested in a huge PR campaign to attract young workers to our company, so how have we succeeded in maintaining this enviably mixed age range for our workforce? The answer is probably a maze of interrelated factors, but we think we’ve identified a few. At Yates, we hire based on both the skills the applicant has, and his or her desire to want to learn. We value those with a high degree of mechanical interest and aptitude, not necessarily on what diploma or degree they have.

Our internal structure is similarly driven by individual employees’ desires, and is primarily self-motivated. For instance, if one of our young employees has skill or experience with one particular machine, but would like to learn about another, we have training options available. We keep track of each new certification an employee achieves, and encourage this sort of interdisciplinary learning – it adds value to Yates to have employees experienced in multiple areas, and adds to their own personal sense of achievement. We’ve found this educational and training-focused approach to serve us well, and we think it prepares us well for the long-term future.

What’s your perspective? What else can manufacturers do to encourage younger workers to join the ranks of manufacturing? Tweet @YatesCylinders with your two cents, or just to follow our industry updates and join our conversations.

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