In January 2017, 88% of manufacturers who completed the EmployerOne survey indicated that they had separations - 72% of these were quits. This research study was conducted to understand the reasons behind the high level of quits in the manufacturing sector and why businesses are having issues with losing new workers who do not remain within the sector.
The Manufacturing industry is growing and its need for a skilled workforce is becoming more urgent. Employers are struggling to recruit workers and the majority of those that completed the EmployerOne1 Survey (75%) had hard-to-fill positions in 2017. The Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington and Dufferin (WPB) has increasingly heard of growing recruitment and retention issues in the manufacturing sector. This study aimed to provide a thorough understanding of these issues from both the employer and the employee perspective.
There was plenty of research available that explained the employer perspective when it comes to these issues however, there was no research found on understanding the side of the employee. Thus, consultation with employer and employees was pivotal to paint a more accurate picture of the issues on the ground.
In both 2017 and 2018, 75% of manufacturers indicated they had positions which were hard to fill. The top reason given was "not enough applicants". In addition, information on hard-to-fill jobs, separations, in demand occupations is provided.
Employer consultation consisted of employer interviews and an online survey. A total of 35 employers provided input on two major topics: recruitment challenges and difficulty in retaining workers. Overall, employers felt wages, high industry competition and misconceptions about manufacturing were primary reasons for high quits and low job applicants. Employers often recommended external solutions to address these issues such as greater involvement in the education of high school students and adjustment of youth expectations when entering the workforce.
Focus groups were used to get the perspective of employees. Three types of focus groups were held: new hires with less than one year with an employer, longer tenured workers with 5 or more years with an employer and unemployed Employment Ontario (EO) clients with manufacturing experience. New hires especially are very aware of quits as they often impact their own work. Three manufacturing employers offered access to their employees. In total, 22 participants were consulted representing a diversity of age, work experience, job positions and departments. Participants were asked about their current position, previous manufacturing experience, reasons why they or their coworkers have quit and what they need to stay with an employer. Employee appreciation and opportunity to advance were highlighted as two major reasons employee may quit a job in manufacturing and what keeps them with an employer. Wages were also discussed, but it was not the only factor employees and EO participants considered. Positive work environment, advancement and employee appreciation are just as important.
Please check out the full Manufacturing Quits Study or the Summary Report for the final findings from the combined input.