Millennials are ruining a lot. There’s no shortage of headlines that proclaim, “Millennials are ruining [blank].” Apparently, the destructive power of this generation has already ruined brunch, cheese, the wine industry, Applebee’s, fabric softener and napkins, to name a few. With that much carnage in their wake, it may be surprising to hear of at least one category that millennials are not ruining. They’re actually improving it.
Millennials grew up with technology in a way that no other generation in the current workforce did. This makes them uniquely qualified to excel in industries that are heavily dependent on technology and digitization.
An unexpected industry that fits this description is manufacturing. Many millennials may be dismissing manufacturing when considering careers, but they shouldn’t. Whether they join an existing operation or start their own, millennials are poised to use their tech skills to improve this industry.
Manufacturing companies that aren’t embracing automation and software solutions are bound to get left behind in the digital transformation that’s hitting the industry. Technology is changing how manufacturing floors are set up and the skills that manufacturing employees need. That new technology requires employees that are comfortable with technology and automation. This is where millennials come in. With a unique understanding of technology and the ability to keep up with its constant changes, millennials are an asset to an industry that needs to be revitalized. The problem is whether this generation sees the opportunity.
Manufacturing is not on the radar for most millennials looking for jobs. The manufacturing industry could successfully rebrand itself as a high-tech, opportunity-rich, exciting career opportunity – but this new image is only beginning to emerge. Manufacturing is still largely thought of as a mind-numbing career working on an assembly line. An individual company may be able to do little to change the industry’s image, but it can change its company’s image. By painting itself as an innovate, cutting-edge industry with room for growth and creativity, a manufacturer can bring in millennials to revitalize its workforce and, if they’re properly empowered, improve processes.
Because they’re used to a much higher level of interconnectedness than their predecessors, millennials bring a unique outlook to business opportunities and how to pursue them. For most established businesses, digitization is a matter of changing an existing process. It means a company must take a paper-based process and make it a digital one. For millennial entrepreneurs, no such adaptation is necessary. Every process they put in place from the beginning will be digital and automated, if possible. And with a greater understanding of technology, millennials can seize business opportunities with relatively few resources at their disposal.
When using automated software solutions, more can be done with less. Millennials who are considering starting up a small business need to recognize the payoff that comes with investing in these solutions. Using the competitive advantage that comes with technology, millennials can use digital production records, equipment calibration software and equipment maintenance software to get their products onto shelves sooner.
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The manufacturing industry in the Unites States will probably never soar to its former glory, but the last several years have seen a steady, albeit very modest, increase in manufacturing jobs.1 Some of those jobs require the skills and education to implement automation and digitization for manufacturing companies. Millennials have a chance to make a difference in this industry by improving existing processes and using their tech skills to increase efficiency.