Create a free Industrial Equipment News account to continue

4 Ways to Spark Gen Z Interest in Manufacturing

Companies must show how the younger workforce can benefit both themselves and the industry.


A 2021 study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute estimated that the manufacturing skills gap in the U.S. could lead to 2.1 million unfilled jobs by the end of the decade. However, manufacturers can address this shortage by marketing the industry's technological advancements to the younger workforce, Gen Z.

In this Q&A with IEN, Promark Electronics President Jarred Knecht provides four ways companies can make manufacturing an attractive career choice for Gen Z.

1. How can manufacturers make their industry more appealing to the younger workforce?

Jarred Knecht (JK): Organizations must market manufacturing as a tech-focused industry. Nowadays, it’s rare for any sector to not be touched by or aligned with tech, and manufacturing is no different.

But it is up to the manufacturing entrepreneurs and the leaders of these organizations to both promote and embrace the evolution of technology to combat the “image problem” we are currently facing. Capturing the attention of younger generations is not only about staying up to date with the latest trends. It’s also about building a positive image of your organization as the next generation of manufacturing and showing how the younger workforce’s skillsets can benefit both themselves and the industry

Most Read on IEN:

2. What technologies can companies market to entice Gen Z?

JK: The manufacturing sector is currently in the middle of a rapid technological shift, with advancements in robotics, IoT, advanced data analytics and AI. This surge in technology, combined with a workforce that is aging into retirement, presents an opportunity for Gen Z to step up and take over new unexplored positions.

Positions like AI developers, robotics engineers and IoT specialists are just a few examples of the jobs that are in high demand with the growing skills gap. Companies should improve their messaging to Gen Z to communicate the exciting ways that technologies like these are bringing manufacturing into the future.

3. Once a company has hired a Gen Z worker, how can the company make sure they stay?

JK: Manufacturers need to show that their investment in the younger generation is an investment in the growth of the company. A great example of this is using new training methods that are both effective (in cost and educational value) and enticing when onboarding this new workforce. Training videos and other bite-sized clips that mimic the ways people get their news and information today are an effective way to show the Gen Z worker that you are paying attention and invested in them from the very start. 

4. While many manufacturing jobs exist outside the floor, what can employers do to fill those traditional factory jobs with the next generation’s workforce?

JK: We’ve come a long way from manufacturing only consisting of “assembly lines." Of course, there is always a need for traditional factory jobs, but it’s important to modernize these specific descriptions when advertising them to today’s workforce.

What could have been exciting 30 years ago is not exciting today. Manufacturers need to emphasize how advancements in recent years, such as using AI directly on the production lines for quality inspection, have revolutionized the industry while simultaneously highlighting the opportunities for growth in career and skill development.

What skills can Gen Z bring to the table to advance manufacturing?

JK: In this rapidly evolving industry, coding, engineering, along with experience in software and digital tools are becoming essential in continuing to advance the manufacturing sector. There will always be a need for digital proficiency.

One of the things that’s exciting is that, as manufacturers modernize, Gen Z’s digital-native skills become more and more of a fit for these manufacturing roles, because new manufacturing jobs are incorporating tech at all levels.

More in Operations