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Integrate Your Workforce Using Community College Graduates

Posted by Ellen McKewen on Dec 17, 2015 8:00:00 AM

College_graduates_holding_their_diplomas.jpgHiring, developing and retaining your workforce can be a challenging task with the increasing demand for a more technological mindset in the workplace.

The struggle is between balancing the needs of traditional manufacturing employees and attracting future generations of employees. Meeting, growing and developing a diverse workforce can create friction between both generations of employees.

Why should you hire recent college graduates? How do you successfully integrate these graduates (progressive employees) with your traditional workforce employees? What are ways that you can develop both your traditional and progressive employees?

Knowing how to hire, integrate and develop employees of all backgrounds will foster creativity and ingenuity; here’s how.

Traditional Manufacturing Workforce vs. Progressive Manufacturing Workforce

Traditional workers have years of experience behind them and they are skilled at what they do. However, their biggest challenge may be learning new skill sets involving technology. This may limit an organization’s potential for innovation and future productivity.

Recent college graduates tend to be more progressive workers. They have been trained in modern manufacturing disciplines in their tech classes and through the projects they had to complete. They are familiar with collaborative learning methods that help them become cross-trained and foster creativity. Plus, their recent studies have given them up-to-date knowledge and experience with the newer technologies being used in the industry. If they are detailed oriented and adept at problem solving, this can be an added bonus.

How to Integrate Two Opposite Spectrums of Skill Sets and Experiences

Traditional employees have wisdom and experience, but maybe are not as strong in computer skills. While progressive employees have knowledge and training, they may require experience in a manufacturing environment. The key to integrating these two types of employees is communication and collaboration.

By creating open communication streams, you will create an engaged workforce instead of maintaining a halfhearted one. Collaboration requires an interdisciplinary understanding that creates a cross functional workforce that is well rounded across multiple departments. Collaboration between disciplines and expertise will enhance your problem solving initiatives making them more efficient. Learning other perspectives will initiate creativity and foster collaborative innovation.

Combining the wisdom and knowledge possessed by tradtional workers with the collaboration and technology skills of progressive workers could be an exciting culture for manufacturing in the future.

Developing an Integrated Workforce

When you have an integrated workforce, creating ways to develop both your traditional and progressive employees can require a little "out of the box" creativity. Development should be focused on staying up-to-date with the direction of the industry and continuing to communicate goals and expectations across your workforce.

One of the more important skills that is becoming prominent in the manufacturing industry is data analysis. With the integration of more technology in manufacturing, you need skilled workers who are experienced in it. Traditional workers should continue developing their knowledge, skills and abilities through an internal training and development program. The recent college grad employees should also be a part of continual training and development to stay current on advancing technologies and manufacturing processes.

The focal point of developing an integrated workforce should be a continual process of cross-training. In a recent IndustryWeek article, Mike Morrow, affiliated with an executive recruiting firm, noted that:

“The traditional manufacturing culture also brings a high probability of talent gaps and succession planning problems. Almost 75% of our clients who engage us to replace an incumbent who’s been in a role for more than five years-- and who have no viable internal candidates under consideration-- characterize themselves as fairly traditional manufacturing cultures. They’ve done a poor job developing talent and challenging high-potential individuals with developmental roles to round out their abilities and prepare them for the next level of leadership.”

How will You Integrate and Develop Your Workforce?

Recruiting top young talent can be a challenge for traditional manufacturing environments. Progressive employees want to learn and engage with the organization they work for.

College grads understand the importance of collaboration, communication and technology. Traditional employees are valued because of their knowledge and the experience that they can share.  As a manufacturer, bringing these two groups together, encouraging engagement and fostering innovation may create a new culture within your company that will bring you future rewards.

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Topics: Workforce Development, Human Resources

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