How manufacturers can create pathways to tomorrow's jobs today

The manufacturing industry is urgently seeking more workers, with an estimated 2.1 million jobs expected to go unfilled by 2030, according to the 2021 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute Manufacturing Talent study.

Manufacturing is often erroneously seen as a low-skilled sector, when in fact, the industry as a whole is an early-adopter of technology including artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, automation, analytics, and the Internet of Things. In short, modern manufacturing careers are increasingly high-tech, high-skill, and high-pay.

Despite rapid digital transformation throughout the industry, humans are still needed to help produce the vast majority of goods the industry makes worldwide. Core skills, such as conceptual thinking, decision-making, flexibility and adaptability, coupled with digital skills, willingness to learn, and drive, are critical to professional success, career growth, and advancement in an industry frequently dismissed by college graduates.

The jobs are here, so where are the candidates? 

With an industry perception problem, a historic lack of diversity, and a growing need for expanded skill sets, recruiters for manufacturing and related organizations have no easy task. Micro-Internships offer an innovative resource for attracting, developing, and retaining talent—even for hard-to-fill positions.

Overcome candidate perceptions

Don’t just tell candidates about your organization; show them through hands-on experience. While many entry-level manufacturing positions do not require a degree, intensive apprenticeships, certifications, licensing, and even management training programs can be a barrier for uninformed candidates not yet ready to take the plunge but curious about the industry. 

Micro-Internships—short-term, paid, flexible, project-based engagements—offer an opportunity for prospective candidates to understand how the skills they already possess can be applied to the industry while also demonstrating the types of work they are likely to encounter day to day. This provides a meaningful experience where candidates see firsthand that the manufacturing industry has much more to offer than the factory floor. 

Example Micro-Internship Use Case

Project Ideas

Skills Assessed

…As an apprenticeship, co-op, or management-in-training recruiting tool

Public Data Review or User Guide Creation

  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Professionalism
  • Curiosity

Learn how Emily's Micro-Internship prepared her for a multi-year cooperative education program >

Increase candidate diversity

Unlike traditional experiential learning programs, including semester-long internships and multi-year apprenticeship programs, Micro-Internships provide increased flexibility—and accessibility—for today’s early-career candidates. Used as a precursor to these longer programs, Micro-Internships allow candidates to demonstrate their skills, grit, and potential while simultaneously learning about the role, organization, and industry at large. 

For hiring managers, the short-term experience provides a more in-depth understanding of what a candidate currently brings to the table as well as their potential and aptitude for further training—and they get an extra set of hands even as they are actively hiring. For rapidly evolving industries like manufacturing, shifting to skills-based hiring via Micro-Internships enables managers and recruiters to cast a wider net while ensuring recruiting efforts are open and accessible by removing common barriers faced by diverse candidates and those currently underrepresented in the industry.

Example Micro-Internship Use Case

Project Ideas

Skills Assessed

…As a diverse candidate recruiting tool

Data Analysis or Presentation Development

  • Technology
  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking

Upskilling, reskilling, and continuous learning

In addition to attracting candidates, Micro-Internships can also be utilized to retain and grow existing employees. Consider the entry-level hire that’s demonstrated an aptitude for technology, but isn’t yet certified or is happy enough in their current role, but curious about career growth and future opportunities. By opening up Micro-Internships to existing employees, you’ll demonstrate a commitment to fostering continuous learning, allow team members to “test-drive” new roles without impacting their current responsibilities, and start developing a skills-based internal pipeline. 

Moreover, candidates with Micro-Internship experience are less likely to renege on long-term job opportunities, and boast 43% higher first-year retention compared to other early-career talent. In as little as ten hours, candidates gain invaluable experience to make informed career decisions for their future. And, despite all Micro-Internships on Parker Dewey being paid, recruiters working with us report between 40-80% lower cost per hire—a very rare occurrence for hard-to-fill roles.

Example Micro-Internship Use Case

Project Ideas

Skills Assessed

…As an internal recruiting tool

QA Testing or Risk Assessment

  • Technology
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Leadership

Why Micro-Internships work for attracting and retaining manufacturing candidates

In a recent interview, Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute (MI)—the education and workforce partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, shares:

“Many envision manufacturing jobs the way their grandparents remember them. But that really isn’t how modern manufacturing careers look today. Tomorrow’s manufacturing jobs will increasingly rely upon irreplaceable human skills—things like creativity, critical thinking, design, innovation, engineering and finance—and, by the way, many of these careers don’t require a four-year degree or the debt that can come with it.

We know Generation Z and Millennials want authenticity and real experiences that speak to their values and aspirations. Modern manufacturing provides the chance to create the future, to be true to who you are and who you want to be. Manufacturing jobs regularly pay more than $80,000 and provide the opportunity to climb much higher in your career, all without incurring massive college debt. You can be a part of teams that are doing exciting work and have a job with a clear purpose, where you know your contribution makes a difference.”

 

As the manufacturing industry as a whole works to change perceptions, providing more opportunities for candidates to see for themselves and launch a lifelong career goes a long way. Both hiring managers and candidates alike find value in short-term Micro-Internship experiences that are low-risk, flexible, and easy.