Many millennials must be able to see the high-tech side of manufacturing, experts say

millennial-manufacturingFinding millennials who are interested in manufacturing and have the aptitude for it are two challenges facing manufacturers trying to replace retiring baby boomers. But there’s another: teaching millennials once they find them.

Employers are discovering that the next generation of workers learns differently than they did.

“Millennials like to see results right now,” said Scott Covert, who runs an in-house training program at Penn United Technologies, a tool-and-die shop that employs about 600.

That requires online courses and lots of hands-on work where students learn practical applications of theory.

At Beaver County Community College, which offers a number of manufacturing-related degrees, getting and keeping millennials engaged means using 3D printers, laser cutters and other equipment that puts a finished product in students’ hands quickly. The products include 3D printed plastic molds used to make chocolate candies featuring the school’s logo.

“These students are so used to instant gratification. This feeds right into their personality,” said Mike Aikens, a natural science and technology professor. “We have to connect with them. They are digital natives.”

(Next page: Steps to attract millennials to manufacturing careers)

Add your opinion to the discussion.