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PCB-May2017

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34 The PCB Magazine • May 2017 America's youth in engineering and manufac- turing is waning. In order to sustain our indus- try for the foreseeable future—especially do- mestically—this interest needs to be reinvigo- rated. Once you get them in the door, how do you keep young talent in-house? Countless pos- sibilities present themselves once he or she is a member of the workforce. Could they be poached by a competitor? Could they become disenchanted with the profession? Can you justify keeping them around? This is the hard- er challenge. When adolescents think about manufacturing, one thing stands out above all: manual labor. There is a certain stigma attached to it which newer generations find increasing - ly difficult to digest. It's as if physical work is a status symbol—or lack thereof. There are two things that can alleviate this misconception: showing them that there's nothing wrong with hard work and showing them that hard work doesn't necessarily mean breaking your back. As an employer, the need for innovative, young minds is evident everywhere you look. From process engineers to streamline your pro- cesses to motivated salespeople who can at- tract business to your company in a way you never might have thought possible, the ideas are there. They're just not being given room to grow. To do this, we need to partake in and commit to grassroots outreach including school field trips, participating in college career fairs, and welcome newcomers into our industry. For a sector that prides itself on being full of Joe Six-Packs, many of us have a very "you can't sit with us" demeanor. We turn our nos- es up at an amateurish question or mentally disqualify somebody without taking the time to learn about them or what they know . New ideas from new employees are dismissed be- cause of resistance to change on the part of leadership. How, then, should we be allowed to complain that we don't have a sufficient in- flux of talent? Another misconception that often goes un- addressed is the level of education required. Students and graduates often assume they need a master's degree or higher to be gainfully employed in our industry. Fortunately, many of us would agree that the best way to learn is on the job. There's no better teacher. Unfor- tunately, though, we don't do a great job of conveying that to the workforce. This industry doesn't align with current trends. To counter that, it's necessary to change and adapt to the times. The reluctance to change, though, is ob - vious and detrimental. This is a direct byprod- uct of an aging workforce. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" never considered the fact that you still need to do some sort of upkeep on what- ever "it" is. Recruiting bright, young talent requires be- ing able to speak their language. Bending em- ployees to your will wasn't always effective and now it' s become a hindrance to business. Whereas the business concept of "make a lot of money" is embedded in all people very ear - ly on in life from a purely survival standpoint, science happens in the background of our lives. It's not always as tangible and therefore, takes us longer to grasp. If the economic health of a nation is partly predicated upon the goods it produces, it's fair to say that complex man- ufacturing plays an important role. Therefore, not only does inspiring students to learn engi- neering and other sciences help our industry, it helps everyone. PCB References 1. CareerBuilder Survey of High School Seniors, September 5, 2014 Sam Sangani is president and CEO of PNC Inc. RECRUITING AND RETAINING YOUNG TALENT " As an employer, the need for innovative, young minds is evident everywhere you look. "

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