In the battle for talent in the automotive industry, the new generation of young people who are about to come into the workforce – Generation Z – will be crucial.
Identified as those born in the mid-90s to early ‘00s, the oldest of the group are leaving higher education and making decisions about their future right now. Much like the generation before them, Gen Z is highly driven, but their aspirations differ to the Millennials who preceded them. It’s a career-focused generation, with the majority stating their greatest aspiration is to be in their dream job within ten years. How do we make sure that they know that dream job could be in the automotive industry?
Our research raises concerns
In our recent industry study, we included questions about what participants saw as the biggest threat to the sector. One recurring answer was the ability to attract and retain the right people.
With less than 3% of our respondents having been within the industry for less than five years, this could suggest that we are not attracting young people at the start of their careers. Indeed, feedback in our survey made it quite clear that more needs to be done to attract new blood.
A key factor in this is the need for current leaders and managers to position the sector in the best light possible. Additionally, manufacturers and professional bodies have an important role to play in supporting the sector.
What do the new generation expect?
Generation Z have realistic expectations – they don’t expect their ideal job to just drop into their lap. Many of them will be burdened with student debt – but interestingly, it is reported that 36% of them are more focused on the opportunity for growth than the absolute salary when it comes to their first job. Here’s a great opportunity. The automotive sector has so many opportunities to offer young people, with diverse roles from technical to sales, marketing and customer service. It’s laden with numerous chances to face new challenges and to be successful.
And whilst modern workplace benefits such as a friendly and flexible workplace culture and transparent salaries will help to attract new talent, these young people are looking for more career-focused perks. The opportunity for career growth, fulfilling work and job stability are highly prized in the search for a job. To attract the right talent, the automotive industry will have to show how they can support young employees in reaching these important goals.
Having found them, how do we keep them?
As our own survey indicated, keeping good people is a challenge. And a high percentage of Generation Z-ers believe three years is the maximum time they should spend in a first job. Frequent and effective training and development opportunities can help to address this issue.
Knowing that their employers offer professional development and growth opportunities is critical. Gen Z will prioritise companies that are engaging and encouraging them over those who do not. Appeal to their desire to learn, whilst offering opportunities for substantial growth, and there’s a chance the industry can successfully attract and retain the next generation of talent stepping up to the plate.
What did our responders think?
Suggestions from our research on how to attract young people included getting more involved with schools, colleges and universities in an attempt to change the perception of the sector at the point at which young people are thinking about their futures. Greater use of social media as an influencer was also considered important.
As many automotive brands have positive connotations with the public, some managers felt a closer working relationship between the brands and the retailers could help to change the perception of the sector. Apprenticeships were seen as significant in attracting new technical staff.
The sector average annual attrition rate is still between 35 – 40% (ref BDO), and we will likely see the baby boomers retire over the next five to ten years, compounding the problem. So, it is imperative that everything is done to attract new blood, then retain and continually develop the workforce.
Click here to download a copy of our survey: https://www.gmdpeople.com/management-report/