On Thursday, February 21st, 2019, HM Manufacturing President and CEO Nicole Wolter participated in the STEP Forward: Illinois networking event. The STEP Forward: Illinois event is part of Manufacturing Institute’s larger STEP Ahead initiative, a program designed to empower women in science, technology, engineering, and production (STEP) careers.
As part of the networking event, Wolter sat on the LEAD the Next Generation panel with Samantha Chmielewski (Custom Aluminum Products) and JoAnna Simek (BDK) to discuss how manufacturing companies can help the next generation of workers realize the many benefits of pursuing a STEP career.
On the panel, Wolter highlighted the need for companies to consider what Generation Z is looking for in the workplace in an effort to attract them to careers in STEP. “While there are distinct differences between millennials and generation Z, we need to be cognizant that the next wave in our workforce is dedicated to technology, and social media and passionate about diversity” Wolter said. “This is a generation with high expectations and aspirations but they are willing to work hard for the right company and that is important knowledge to know as employers and business owners.”
According to Pew Research Center, Generation Z, or people born after 1996, already represent around 5% of the workforce and are the fastest growing portion of the workforce. Door of Clubs polled 5,000 members of Gen Z on what they were looking for from employers and the results were surprising. Unlike their older Millennial counterparts, over a third of Gen Z value mentorship as the most important benefit and nearly 40% of Gen Z valued health care as the top benefit. While many Millennials value working remotely and flexible hours, the next generation of workers finds a high degree of autonomy and work culture more important than salary and raises. The main objective for many of Gen Z is an empowering work culture.
HM Manufacturing is committed to showing Generation Z the opportunities a career in manufacturing has to offer. In fact, we find Generation Z shares many of the same values in a workplace culture that we do. We currently offer internships, including a six-week program starting with Sophomores in High School. Our company culture has always been based on being a family business and we value the one-on-one mentorship between employees and both the founder of the company and the CEO that comes with that. HM Manufacturing even offers 100% employer paid health care, one of the most important benefits to Generation Z, to our employees.
Manufacturing companies are positioned to recruit Generation Z to careers in the industry. However, if manufacturing wants to close the skills gap, companies need to work on showing the benefits of a career in manufacturing and adapt to meet the changing needs of a younger workforce.