Millennials’ Distaste for Autos Key Factor in Talent Shortage for Industry


Things we know: There is a growing talent shortage across all US industries affecting (among most others) the automobile manufacturing industry. Millennial workers—the largest demographic within the entire workforce—gravitate towards jobs where innovation and technology are critical success factors. These Millennials are buying automobiles at rates far lower than previous generations of consumers. What you may not know, is how the interplay between these three factors sets up a vicious cycle depressing talent acquisition for the auto industry in this key workforce demographic. Here’s how this dynamic plays out and what you can do about it if you’re in charge of workforce management for an automaker.

Big four auditing company, KPMG, in conjunction with the Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) published the 2017 Auto Pulse survey of more than 400 OESA members. The study is designed to promote a greater understanding of how the industry is evolving, and insights into where it may be heading. By three to one, respondents said they believed a major technology company would enter the automotive market as an OEM in the next 10 years. Yet, nearly the same level of respondents were less optimistic about the industry’s ability to source and secure the talent needed to compete in this rapidly advancing technological environment.

In fact, better than 90% of those polled said they expected the talent deficit in their industry to stay bad or worsen in the coming year. Why are carmakers having such a bad time attracting talent? A third of all respondents (34%) rightly identified the “perception of the industry by Millennials” as the culprit while another third (32%) blamed “other industries/startups attracting specific talent types.” Those “talent types” must be imputed to contain the high tech skilled workers in demand across most industries.

The responses regarding the impact of this shortage was illustrative with 35% saying employee morale was impacted moderately to significantly. In second place among the polled consequences of this shortage, 33% of respondents pointed to its impact on product innovation and operational efficiency respectively.

Here’s how it all hangs together. Millennial workers are both the reason for and the solution to the shortage. It boils down to the auto industry’s ability to change its image among this critical, young generation. While evidence suggests the Millennial generation does not like to buy cars, the reality is more likely that many of them have opted to move to urban centers (where a car is costly and unnecessary expense) because that is where tech jobs are at highest concentrations. The challenge is not for the auto industry to improve the popularity of its product among Millennials. Rather it must be to emphasize the looming, technology-driven revolution in automotive designautonomous/driverless vehicles.

Millennials favor tech roles largely because these types of jobs appeal to their sensibilities. Notoriously motivated by innovation, quicker on-the-job gratification, and opportunity for career advancement that doesn’t take decades like it did for their parents and grandparents, Millennials can certainly be attracted by the auto industry of tomorrow. The demand for automobiles won’t likely fall significantly even if younger generations are favoring urban lifestyles. After all, the US is a large geographical area and conveyance will always be required. What auto makers must do though in order to avoid the detrimental effects of the talent shortage, is to market themselves more effectively as centers of technical innovation with vast capital at their disposal and a hunger for the brightest young minds to help design and deploy the transportation paradigm of the 21st century. For help in developing talent acquisition programs with this in mind, leading auto industry players are engaging the help of workforce solution design experts like nextSource. Reach out today for more information on how to turn Millennials from skeptics to champions of the tomorrow’s auto industry.

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