The struggle of attracting, retaining, and developing talent within the manufacturing industry is not a new phenomenon. Businesses in this sector have been grappling with how to overcome this challenge for decades. While the pandemic has exacerbated the issue, a widening skills gap and a significant portion of the labor pool reaching retirement age has long fueled the talent shortage manufacturers are facing today.
In the late 1980s, a small group of local companies formed a council for manufacturers in the West Michigan region, united under a banner of collaboration and mutual trust. Now, three decades later, The Right Place, Inc. Manufacturers Council serves as a vast repository of industry knowledge and a cornerstone of the manufacturing sector in the region. Despite its growth over the years, the council still retains its mission of encouraging collaboration and sharing best practices between regional manufacturers.
“There’s a common bond between those who participate in The Council,” says Peter Hungerford, council member and Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer at ADAC Automotive. “We have a fundamental desire to see our community prosper and grow, and that also means helping the people within the community, whether it’s providing jobs or investing in training or creating career opportunities. Every council member—and their companies—is committed to the community, and being willing to share, network, and learn from each other is a testament to this.”
Despite the increasingly competitive talent market, now, more than ever before, many of the conversations had among council members revolve around effective strategies for attracting and retaining talent. While it would be reasonable to assume these are closely kept secrets, that is not the case. Members of The Manufacturers Council are eager and thankful for a forum that allows them to openly discuss these topics with their peers.
Pathways to Success
The Manufacturers Council is working to shed a more favorable light on manufacturing and attract high-school and college-aged students to this promising career path.
“We’re collaborating and leveraging tools, such as LinkedIn, to show manufacturing presence in West Michigan and to demonstrate just how cool it is,” says Ann Mason, member and VP of Supply Chain and Operations at Perrigo Oral Care, a Perrigo Company. “And yes, there’s competition for talent, but there’s also a strong desire to keep these professionals in West Michigan—no matter which of our member’s companies they choose to work for.”
The council continues to take an active role in talent-attraction-based initiatives and events, including MI Career Quest and Discover Manufacturing.
Discover Manufacturing is a regional network of hundreds of manufacturers committed to addressing the short- and long-term talent needs of West Michigan’s manufacturing industry. One of its signature events, Discover Manufacturing Week, provides an opportunity for manufacturers throughout the region to introduce the community, especially the future workforce, to modern manufacturing facilities and practices. This program allows thousands of students throughout West Michigan to explore career paths they may not have thought of before.
Many members of the Manufacturers Council are involved in Discover Manufacturing Week, which is coming up on November 1-5 & 8-12, 2021. It will be held both virtual and as in-person as possible. Virtual events (part 1) will be held from Oct. 25, 2021, through October 29, 2021. In-person tours (part 2) will take place Nov. 8 through Nov. 12, 2021. More information can be found at discover-manufacturing.com.
As West Michigan continues to tackle talent challenges alongside the rest of the world, the Manufacturers Council and its leadership strives to continue sharing valuable knowledge and solutions with others in the manufacturing community.
To learn more about joining The Manufacturers Council, visit rightplace.org/mfrcouncil or The Right Place, Inc./Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West Executive Assistant, Rene Booker, at 616-301-6247 or [email protected]