Baby-boomer demographics continue to shape industry and employment.
According to Peter Coy with Bloomberg,”…older workers’ share of the workforce briefly dipped below 12 percent in the early 1990s but has risen steeply ever since. The population bulge of the baby boom is the big factor, of course. The peak birth year of the baby boom was 1957. Those peak boomers, no longer babies, reached age 55 in 2012—the first year older workers’ share of employment hit 21 percent.” As managers we need to
Understand that this cadre of talent has (is!) our tribal knowledge;
Find ways to help them share and preserve this knowledge;
Find new talent to learn from them;
One more item to think about- many baby-boomers will not be taking traditional retirements for various reasons-
They enjoy their jobs,
They are still too fit to “retire,”
They can’t afford to,
They decide to keep working to assure that they won’t run out of money when they finally do retire.
Guest post by Frances Brunelle, at Accelerated Buy Sell Blog I was really impressed with her thinking- and the fact that she offers a solution. Last week I attended the quarterly meeting of the NJTMA. The new president of the association, Mr. Alan Haveson, asked the audience by a show of hands, how many were in need of skilled workers. Almost every hand in the room went up. As I looked around the room, I noticed that a majority of the business owners were sporting grey, salt & pepper or white hair. Mr. Haveson went on to talk about the responsibility to transfer knowledge to the next generation before it’s too late. That night I enjoyed catching up with some of my long time customers. They all talked about how hard it is to find good qualified machinists. For a few seconds I wondered how the industry got itself into this position. I answered my own question in my head because I’ve read enough books, authored enough articles and been entrenched in the industry long enough to know.
This didn’t happen over night. It was slow and steady. It happened one student at a time, being told that manufacturing was not a worthy profession. It happened in almost every high school across the country, as guidance counselors encouraged other types of careers.
We, as a society, allowed the image of US manufacturing to be tarnished.
We didn’t speak up. We didn’t allow our voices to be heard. We allowed our collective paradigm to shift away from the idea that making things here at home is a good and worthy profession. When did graduating college with a mountain of debt and a degree for something for which one can’t find a job become the norm?
The whole situation reminds me of the story of how DeBeers altered the way many nations looked at diamond engagement rings over the course of a generation. In 1967 only about 5% of Japanese women sported a diamond engagement ring. In 1981 the figure rose to about 60%. How did DeBeers accomplish this? The same way they did in every other country, through advertising. Through relentless advertising over multiple media, the rare became the norm and a new paradigm was created for the furtherance of the company’s bottom line.
Are you asking what diamonds have to do with a generation of US students rejecting manufacturing as a viable career? Was this rejection the paradigm of generations past? Of course not! It was slow and steady encouragement and “advertising,” by an industry that would make more money based on student’s choices. Before I inspire a bunch of hate mail, I am NOT saying that traditional four-year colleges are bad. What I’m saying is that we all must keep in mind that the secondary education system is a business that seeks its own perpetuation. Colleges are a business just like DeBeers that have a vested interest in an entire population viewing what they provide as an absolute must. I think that it’s smart to question the “norms” in society. Don’t think so? Where are the jobs today? How many folks do you know have their adult children living with them, because they can’t find employment after college? How fast would these kids find a job if they knew how to program a CNC machining center? So how do we fix this? We didn’t get here over night, and this won’t be fixed overnight. But it can be a slow and steady storm. An army of people who work in manufacturing and supporting industries speaking, writing, advertising and advocating for the industry. It starts with people like Al Haveson challenging the membership of a State Manufacturing Association to do their part to pass the baton to the next generation. It starts with folks like Anthony LaMastra, former president of the same association, working hard to get a regional manufacturing training center in our state. It starts with apprenticeship programs around the country. It starts with people like Gene Haas making generous donations of machining centers to manufacturing educational programs throughout the country. It starts with other machine tool builders following Mr. Haas’s lead. It starts with people like you going to your son or daughters school to talk about how cool it is to MAKE things.
So many MILLIONS of great minds within the manufacturing community will retire in the next 10-20 years. What can you do to give back after you retire? Will you be a volunteer, a mentor or a writer? How will you help champion the industry once you retire? What would result if this conversation happens at EVERY state manufacturing association? What if it happens at a national level?
What happens if we go “DeBeers” on an entire generation of young people to champion US manufacturing?
I think that it is going to be a lot different than just the “More Automation” trend we’ve been seeing for the last few years.
Over the last eight years, our shops have been adding automation to better compete against low labor cost manufacturing abroad and to improve shop capability.
I know, because at the end of 2003, we took a mission to China to see how we could better compete with the emerging dragon that was Chinese manufacturing.
What do the next 8 years hold in store for us? What will be the forces at work to reshape our shop as we know it?
Have a look at these two graphs from BLS:
Not looking so good for adding younger talent according to these charts.
The projected labor force growth over the next 10 years will be affected by the aging of the baby-boom generation; as a result, the labor force is projected to grow at a slower rate than in the last several decades
Here’s my (tongue in cheek) artist’s conception of the shop of the future.
What is your vision for the shop of the future? 25 words or less please for Round 1. Thoughtful, shocking, and compelling visions will be considered for an expanded treatment in a future post. Post your comment below.
In one word: “demographics.” Here are five reasons from Shirley A. Engelhardt, President and Founder of ORTHOWORLD Inc., a strategic services firm solely focused in orthopaedics, and Founder and Managing Member of Knowledge Ventures, LLC, an early stage musculoskeletal investment fund.
5 Reasons: 1)We’re getting older. 2) We’re becoming more demanding, both mentally and physically. 3) We’re not taking such good care of our bodies, even at a young age. 4) We’re continuing to believe, at 40 or 50, that we’re still 25. 5) We’re prone to falls, accidents and other foibles of daily living (and always will be).
Shirley Englehardt has plenty of facts and data to back that up, and if you are in (or thinking about entering) the medical orthopedic parts market, the article at the link below will be Gold for you. Orthoworld article. Photocredit: Thanks to Jeff Remaley at Orthoworld for sharing the great article.