Gen Z Increasingly Views Frontline Manufacturing as Important, High-Tech and Modern

Parsable research reveals increased reception toward a career in manufacturing, but industry still has barriers to overcome to attract the Gen Z worker

According to a recent by Parsable, provider of the Connected Worker platform for frontline manufacturing and industrial work, 83% of recently graduated 18-24 year olds (part of Gen Z) view manufacturing as high-tech and modern, up from 69% the year prior. Nearly half of all respondents (48%) also view manufacturing as very important today.

The results come as an update to Parsable’s 2021 Gen Z survey, again exploring the perceptions of recent Gen Z graduates so that manufacturing leaders can take action to attract this generation to a career in the industry.

The manufacturing industry continues to experience workforce challenges related to retirements and a tight labor market, making it difficult for manufacturers to continue to keep pace with high consumer demands. Recruitment of new talent, particularly recent graduates and those beginning to explore careers, is critical to the future success of the manufacturing industry.

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While a growing number of Gen Zers view manufacturing as an important industry, the survey findings this year also revealed that the generation’s proclivity for choosing to work for companies that prioritize environmental and sustainability goals is unlikely to be waived for high-tech environments or competitive salaries alone. More than half of respondents (56%) say they would take a smaller salary and/or less benefits to work for a more environmentally responsible company. Additionally, 84% of respondents claim a company’s environmental and sustainability goals are very important or somewhat important when choosing a job. Of respondents who reported having concerns with pursuing a career in manufacturing, 13% believe it does not support making an environmentally, socially responsible and ethical impact.

“Parsable’s research this year revealed Gen Z increasingly views manufacturing as high-tech and modern, which is a step in the right direction for developing a resilient frontline workforce,” said Matt Belkin, CEO of Parsable. “Parsable’s survey findings indicate a unique opportunity for companies to attract this generation into the industry through the use of digital tools that not only help younger workers advance their own industrial skill sets but can also help organizations gather invaluable frontline activity data. That data can then be used to track, trend, and optimize frontline operations across sites, helping companies prioritize frontline safety and better implement and report on ESG initiatives – something the survey findings show is top of mind for Gen Z.”

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Parsable’s findings also revealed lingering misperceptions about today’s frontline manufacturing environment that remain as barriers to recruitment. Requirements for high levels of technology experience was still the number one concern with pursuing a career in manufacturing (23%), and more than two-thirds of respondents (68%) believe that entry-level manufacturing jobs pay less than the industry average.

Additional survey findings include:

  • Nearly three quarters of respondents (71%) believe a career in frontline manufacturing is an attractive, challenging and future-focused profession, up from 64% previously.
  • More than half of respondents (53%) said manufacturing-focused programs were not available at school, and 68% noted greater availability of these programs would increase their interest in manufacturing-related careers.
  • Gen Z expects employers to provide/utilize technology to help them advance digital skills (18%), provide context for the work they are doing (15%) and provide more productivity/job satisfaction (15%).
  • While Gen Z turns to family the most for inspiration on choosing a career path (20%), more than half of respondents (57%) don’t personally know someone who works in manufacturing.

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