#70 – Inside Our Industry – Gen Zers: The Future of Manufacturing

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

Getting young people interested in a career in manufacturing is likely to involve a new strategy by the Gen-Xers and Millennials that trying to attract the new workers. Is this the right answer to solving the worker shortage? Do you really have a choice?

Gen Zers: The Future Of Manufacturing
Patrick O’Rahilly  |  Forbes Councils Member  |  October 6, 2021

Generation Z, which consists of people born after 1996, is poised to make up the majority of the workforce for the next 30 years. Our industry needs to invite these Gen Z workers into manufacturing, but they will only hear us if we speak to them in a language they understand.

From scrolling through Instagram and TikTok to valuing instant gratification to prioritizing diversity and inclusion, Gen Z is a class of its own. Rather than fighting these trends, there is a solution: Speak to Gen Z using their preferred methods of communication. And based on the data below, that means connecting digitally.

  • 45% of teenstoday say they are online “almost constantly.”
  • Gen Z consumers are 2x more likelyto shop on mobile devices than Millennials are.
  • 48% of Gen Zis most influenced by a brand’s social media activity when discovering a new brand.

So many of the upcoming holiday season jobs in picking, packing, kitting and — Santa’s favorite — assembly are desperate for labor right now. And Gen Zers may be the answer. Here are four ways to get started and engage Gen Zers where they are:

  1. Use the right channels. The social channels often used by Gen Zers are TikTok and Instagram, rather than Facebook and Twitter. You can reach Gen Z on their preferred channels by including videos and music within your posts. When it comes to posting about a job position, it should be less about function and more about highlighting how your organization is a great place to work.
  2. Build meaningful relationships. Manufacturers must build meaningful relationships on social media with constant content — in our experience, this means posting as much as six to 12 times a day. Video testimonials of happy, like-minded employees will carry more clout among Gen Zers than ever before.
  3. Make it social. The importance of Gen Z’s network and referrals must be tapped into by manufacturers desperate to fill positions. Accessing their network is tantamount to a self-service human resources department. Gen Zers will give manufacturers access to their network of friends and followers for a price. Companies must be explicit that not only is one person being hired but their entire network could consist of potential job candidates.
  4. Focus on doing good. Gen Zers, as social influencers, often want to work for companies with similar social, environmental and political perspectives. Only when manufacturing firms constantly extoll their values will this new labor force play along. They want to hear about sustainability, green initiatives, multi-cultural tolerance — not just quality products. There must be a feel-good element.


In the coming years, Gen Z will make up the most significant portion of active workers in the market. Every month, the manufacturing industry is losing workers to retirement. Without a shift toward attracting new, more youthful talent, the possibility of a quiet shop floor is all too real.

This is why I suggest speaking with potential hires in their own vernacular and meeting them where they spend their time, and in the case of Gen Zers, that is on social media. So, grab your smartphones, download the apps and start engaging with your next recruitment class.