Hiring Veterans Solves Manufacturing Workforce Planning Challenges

What’s happening in today’s economy often impacts today’s labor force. In January, employment in manufacturing remained on an upward trend (+15,000). Durable goods industries added 18,000 jobs. Manufacturing has added 186,000 jobs over the past 12 months. According to *Manufacturing Business Technology,* several economic trends are affecting the labor force in 2018.

Global growth means more exports of U.S. manufactured goods. A softening dollar also contributes to greater exports because they are cheaper to foreign nations. A spike in business spending and inventories after two years of flat sales indicates optimism and confidence. And in the political sphere, the tax overhaul and reduction of corporate taxes means there will fuel more hiring in manufacturing.
These trends mean good things for the manufacturing world. Employers must play it smart to plan for and secure the work forces they will need to meet the increased market for manufactured goods.

According the National Association of Manufacturers, the economic data for the first week of March brought even more encouraging signs for manufacturers. The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 60.8 in February 2018, the highest level since May 2004. That means new orders, production, exports, and the employees it will take to fill them.

###What Does This Have to Do with Hiring Veterans?

Employers will have to find smart, skilled talent. *Manufacturing Business Technology* stated, “Talent shortages for roles such as electricians, machinists, welders, PLC technicians, mechanics, construction tradespersons, and engineers will persist for the foreseeable future. While this lack of skilled talent is one of the biggest challenges manufacturers face today, there are ways to get a jump on filling these difficult roles.”

The article went on to recommend recruiting military veterans for positions such as operations leadership, maintenance and maintenance management, and quality engineering and improvement. Many veterans already have the skills and technical expertise needed for manufacturing positions when they leave service.

###Veterans Are Eager to Put Their Leadership Skills to Work

As manufacturing moves to close its looming skills gap left by retiring baby boomers, turning to military veterans, who are both educated and highly trained, is a natural fit. The technical skills, leadership experience, dedication to safety, compliance, and ability to adapt and learn new procedures make veterans stand out. What’s more, veterans are adept at troubleshooting, working under pressure, and most are cross-trained in more than one field.

###Veterans Don't Want to Simply Punch In and Punch Out

Instead, they seek opportunities for continuous learning. In a recent survey conducted by Universum on behalf of RecruitMilitary, veterans indicated that the qualities that matter most to them in the civilian workforce are being able to utilize their leadership skills.

They also value leaders who support their development; professional training and development; and challenging work. Another factor that is important to veterans is the opportunity to engage in team-oriented work: 27% listed it as an attractive attribute in a job.

Veterans’ leadership skills allow them to be molded into virtually any role. Said one recruiter, “A lack of specific experience in the field to which transitioning veterans are applying is expected. If a candidate can show that they possess fundamental qualities, then we are often able to teach them the business side of the job that they need to be successful.”