MUKILTEO, WA—94% of employees within the manufacturing sector would stay at their companies if they had development opportunities. Opportunities to not only fast-track their skill set to career advancement, but long-term incentives that will bring on entry-level employees at a faster pace, and retain those who have dedicated years to their craft.
Over 20 local manufacturing employers gathered at Pathfinder Manufacturing in Everett to collaborate on recruitment strategies, best practices for attracting talent, and long-term goals to sustain their company’s success. The roundtable included companies from a wide range of manufacturing sub-sectors including plastics, aerospace, defense, electronics, and space exploration.
“The landscape for attracting talent has changed significantly, especially since COVID. What we’re experiencing now, the traditional methods, typically are pretty unsuccessful,” said Alex Mathers, Director of Manufacturing & Production Planning for Aerojet Rocketdyne. “We don’t see the same number of applicants—we have to get creative, start to network with programs such as AJAC and Impact Washington, and the other schools in the area, looking for early career talent and growing our own. We need to adapt to the changing environment.”
The changing environment was the topic of conversation during the roundtable discussion. Pipelines are slower now than 2019, and non-traditional channels of recruitment are becoming more in-demand. “We really encouraged our employer partners to think outside the box when it comes to identifying talent,” said Erin Williams, Regional Program Manager for AJAC. “Create job postings with an active tense, reduce your hire processes turnaround time, identify your company’s value proposition and culture. The younger generation has put a large emphasis on leadership, diversity, and visible career pathways. Today we challenged our employers to evaluate their own strengths, but areas for improvement.”
Every employer at one point had a sigh of relief—they were not facing these challenges alone. Regardless of the companies size or budget, each one shared the same sentiment—this is a long term process but if you start now, results could be right around the corner. Travis Moore, Vice President of JEMCO has worked with AJAC’s training programs to ease the burden of sourcing new talent, “What’s worked well when addressing the labor shortage is partnering with organizations like AJAC to come at the problem from an innovative position and provide an opportunity for the youth or anyone looking to transition their career. Looking at the positive side—there is a huge pool of the population we can serve by training or educating on any type of manufacturing.”
Since 2010, AJAC has helped hundreds of manufacturing employers with customized training programs that fit their needs in real-time. Utilizing the model of apprenticeship is one proven method, but connecting with local technical colleges, military bases, high school CTE programs or the state’s Job Skills Program are avenues we encourage employers to consider.
About AJAC’s Employer Roundtables
Erin Williams, Regional Program Manager for AJAC facilitates four roundtables per year in Snohomish, Whatcom, and North King Counties. She invites local manufacturing employers, regardless of their partnership with us, to join one of our dozen employer manufacturing roundtables across Washington State. AJAC’s roundtables provide a forum for employers to discuss their workforce development needs, hear strategies other companies are using, and better understand alternate methods for sourcing new talent. We also welcome community-based organizations and educational institutions to join our employers and better understand the issues facing them in the manufacturing industry.