Friday, December 28, 2018

Where Are the Millennial Factory Workers?

As we’ve all come to realize, finding a new production line worker for many modular factories is nowhere to be found. And if you are fortunate enough to find one it’s usually just a crapshoot waiting for them to either quit, get fired or fail the random drug test.

That's just BS! You just may not be looking in the right place.

And this brings us to a very simple question: “If Millennials are such a huge part of today’s workforce why can’t modular factories find them?”

The answer however is far from simple. Let’s take a look at the Millennial generation as a whole and break the workforce into segments:

  • Millennial College Graduates
  • Millennial College Dropouts
  • High School Graduates
  • High School Dropouts

Workforce Status:
  • Already working
  • Looking for Work
  • Unemployable
  • Won’t look for work
  • Can’t work

According to the 2017 US Labor Bureau the average wage across all of the areas above was $907 a week or $47,164 a year. However high school graduates averaged only $712 a week or $37,024 a year, a $10,000 a year difference.

On the surface that seems to make sense but one of these group’s wages is rising faster than a college graduate’s weekly wage of $1,173.

Enter the Millennial high school graduate that chose to either enter the military or get an apprenticeship or go straight into a job after school.

This is the group of Millennials that share a lot of their fellow Millennial values but have an understanding that working in a job that gives them a good paycheck, insurance and will allow them to buy a home and a nice SUV or two is within their grasp without any student debt to pay back or facing disappointed parents wondering why they wanted to work with their hands.

This group is the “golden egg” that all modular home factories try to get. So why can’t we get them to work for us?

Another ‘not so simple’ answer: they are making a lot more money than just about any other Millennial group including college graduates. They are loyal to their employers and most actually like their jobs.

It’s not unusual for young long haul truck drivers to make over $100,000 a year. The young high school graduates that are currently working in electrical, HVAC and even some factories are making more than $40 a hour or more plus benefits.

I just learned of a young local crane operator for a railroad intermodal yard getting a $20,000 raise for 2019 simply because he was good at his job and the company can’t find new people wanting to work for them. They were afraid they would lose him and have nobody to replace him.

This group of Millennial high school graduates that want to work will soon be outpacing and outearning their Millennial siblings and if you want to attract them to your production lines you better be prepared to pay them...handsomely!

If that is not in the cards for your factory you might want to look at these two groups of Millennials that are ripe for filling in the open slots. The first is Millennial high school dropout who may have dropped out for family or personal reasons. They probably would have graduated if not for some unforeseen circumstance and would love an opportunity at working for a good wage.

The other group is the college dropout. The sooner someone drops out of college the better the chance they either knew college wasn’t for them or like the high school dropout, they had something happen that forced them to quit. They know they have to work in the real world now and would love to learn you have good, long term jobs with good pay and benefits.

We hear a lot about Millennials changing jobs almost as fast as they update their smartphones but that is not as likely to happen with what I call the “Working Millennial” groups. They tend to stay with a good company longer and don’t have their noses pressed to the window looking for a better job.

Treat them with respect, give them a good wage with benefits and they will return the favor by being great members of your team.


Anon said...

"They know they have to work in the real world now and would love to learn you have good, long term jobs with good pay and benefits."
Okay, now point out a modular home manufacturer that offers both. Many offer, maybe, $15/ hour without good benefits. How can a person support a family or, even themselves, on $600/wk minus taxes, minus big $$ per week for insurance, etc , etc , etc?? Who are they going to attract and, more importantly, retain? And they (upper management) demand a top quality product? Modular manufacturing will continue to be stagnant until manufacturers are willing to take that next step by offering good wages and benefits, attracting top workers, putting out a top quality product, and pricing their product accordingly, instead of competing with each other to the point of hurting the entire industry.

Unknown said...

The above comment is correct. I will say though the modular commercial niche is going to become the front runner in the hospital and multifamily demographic so builders and generals and manufacturers need to come to terms with all facets of the industry I believe modular is my future I'm just looking for a good employer who needs a quality experienced modular superintendent

Jason Bos said...

If you can’t find or retain good people, stop looking at the people as the problem and start looking at how you treat people. Do you... train, enable, inspire, incentivize? If not you likely have a labor force problem.

Scott Flynn said...

We have a line out the door waiting to work for us. Reason: Our culture rocks! EVERY employee has profit sharing, an equity stake, 100% health, dental, vision insurance, paid personal time off, 10 paid holiday, etc. Inclusion, diversity, equality is at the hearth of everything we do. Ohh, and we are profitable and our product is super high quality. Our employee turnover is virtually zero. It’s no secret...treat others as you want to be treated and watch the magic happen.

Robert Foster said...

I think there's quality trainable personnel available there's young and veteran people who can and would make the change and jump on the opportunity to become involved in what I believe is the future in multi family and hospitality demographic, construction. Modular is the future for that niche. I love running modular job sites

Ken Arends said...

I just joined Katerra and I know millennials that are making $70K and one of the best benefit packages I have seen. Their on boarding and training is awesome. The culture is great and exciting. I would not generalize how the modular industry pays or what benefits they have. This is the fastest growing sector in the construction industry and it is becoming more and more competitive.