millinnial factory workerMore than half a million jobs in manufacturing remain unfilled due to a labor skills gap, according to the May 7, 2014 US News & World Report article. (Source)

The gap is due to various factors: retiring baby boomers, growth in US manufacturing, and younger workers lacking math and computer skills.

To fill the gap, some companies have turned to attracting Millennials — those born between 1981 and 1998.

Millennials EXPECT a mobile-friendly user experience

Each year Achieve publishes its Millennial Impact Report. Geared toward non-profits, the report is full of data and insight on how Millennials want to connect with and contribute to non-profits.

It also gives some great insight into how Millennials use technology and what they expect from non-profit websites — insight that manufacturers and B2B companies hoping to hire these younger workers desperately need.

Some statistics from the report:

  • 83% of survey respondents own a smart phone
  • 80% use their phones to read emails and articles from non-profits
  • 80% like it when organizations have mobile-friendly websites

According to the usability testing the researchers did, Millennials HATE when websites aren’t mobile friendly. Definite turn-offs include:

  • Text that’s too small and hard to read
  • Non-intuitive navigation
  • Cluttered space or content that’s not valuable

Watch this video and then take a look at your website using your phone. You’ll quickly see why you probably need a website overhaul pronto.

The Industrial Internet of Things — $14 TRILLION and growing

Manufacturers must take into account two rapidly converging trends.

One, mobile device usage has seen a growth trajectory of 65% from January 2011 to October 2013. (ComScore’s US Digital Future in Focus Report 2014)

comscore-data

And two, data released by Manufacturing.net in its first IoT Uplink video, shows the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is rapidly growing. Of the $14 trillion industry, manufacturing represents the biggest opportunity at 27%.

IIoT stands for the “connected” factory where machines and devices are connected to the factory automation system and to each other. These systems, machines and devices talk to each other and gather data. They can also be programmed or attended to remotely via smartphones and tablets.

Even more astounding, 63% of all businesses are now moving to a BYOD workplace (Bring Your Own Device) with estimates showing that 50 billion people will have smartphones by 2020.

Manufacturing and industrial websites must be ready

I talk a lot about how manufacturers and B2B companies can get more inquiries from their websites.

But the more I study these websites, the rise of mobile, our changing behaviors in response to how we use our devices, and now the IIoT, the more I’m convinced that manufacturers and B2B companies MUST prepare for the coming mobile and industry transformation — NOW.

And by prepare, I mean create responsive websites geared toward multiple audiences: Customers and Prospects using their devices while on the go AND Millennials looking for work.

As more Millennials graduate from college burdened with debt and unable to find gainful employment in the professional sectors, more will turn to the highly skilled jobs awaiting them in manufacturing.

To attract these highly-skilled, educated mobile-connected, social-media savvy workers, manufacturers’ websites must include:

  • Clear information about the company, its history, mission and achievements
  • Biographical information, including links to social media profiles, of the management team and key employees.
  • Social media or blog updates of companies involvement in the local community and industry
  • Video testimonials of Millennials already employed at the company
  • Easy and intuitive methods for applying for jobs via smartphone (can’t stress this enough!)

Most importantly, however, manufacturers’ websites must be responsive — or designed for mobile.

Unfortunately, based on the dozens and dozens of small manufacturing websites I’ve looked at in the last few months, companies are simply not ready for the transformation taking place TODAY.

From clunky ugly sites designed with the desktop in mind to content that does nothing to attract potential buyers, let alone younger workers, manufacturers stand to lose significant ground if they continue to view their number one asset — the website — from an outmoded “online brochure” perspective.

What’s your opinion or experience? Do you agree that manufacturer websites need to be designed with Millennials in mind? Leave your thoughts below.