How Are You Going To Find Your Next Generation Of Workers?

We need to find a way to light a fire in students
We need to find a way to light a fire in students
Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Managers know that the problems of today will probably end up being solved by the workers of tomorrow. The challenge that we face, on top of everything else that we have on our plates, is that we need to be using our manager skills to find and attract those workers who will be solving tomorrow’s problems. What this means for managers is that we have yet another job that we need to accomplish: find and attract the workers of tomorrow today.

The Challenges Faced By Tomorrow’s Workers

One of the things that managers need to understand is that in order to create teams in the future that will be able to work together and solve problems, we will need to be able to create teams that have diversity. Most of us don’t have any manager training on how to do this. Although this may sound like it is an easy thing to do, it turns out that it actually might be a lot harder than it looks. As recently as 2015, the engineering field was 70% white and 85% male. About 4% of engineering jobs in the U.S. were held by black people, and less than 2% were held by black women, according to the National Science Foundation. Meanwhile, the number of African-Americans earning bachelor’s degrees in engineering has remained little changed since 2010, hovering around 4%, according to the American Society for Engineering Education.

In the first diversity and inclusion ranking study that was done, the industrial sector—a big employer of engineers—ranked seventh out of 11 sectors in the S&P 500. The energy and materials sectors, also big employers of engineers, tied for last. The consumer-discretionary sector ranked fourth, but companies like GM earned high marks on ethnic diversity, as well as gender diversity of its board, senior management and workforce.

How To Build Tomorrow’s Teams

Top performers in the study recruit from college associations for women and people of color and send diverse engineers to classrooms in low-income areas to get children interested in science. Teams visit K-12 classrooms and create robotics teams in order to encourage students to pursue coding or electrical engineering. This is a great form of team building. Attracting a more diverse population of engineering students may be needed to help counter looming labor shortages.

What managers need to realize is that our country needs more African-American engineers to continue our nation’s progress and fill talent gaps. Challenges include an absence of role models for black students and opportunities for engineers of color to develop professionally. Managers are now helping to lead the charge on those issues.

To get younger people of color interested in engineering, managers need to visit K-12 classrooms and create robotics teams to help students develop a passion for coding or electrical engineering. Managers can also offer advice on college applications. While the number of African-Americans earning engineering degrees hasn’t changed much in recent years, the needle does seem to be moving for Hispanics, who earned 11.4% of the engineering degrees awarded in 2018, up from 7% in 2010, according to the American Society for Engineering Education.

Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S., which could explain some of the growth. But some in the field say efforts to encourage Hispanic youth to pursue science also is having an effect. Part of the reason you’re going to see a big pickup in Hispanics in STEM is that managers are going back as a community and helping the community.

What All Of This Means For You

Today’s managers have a lot going on. They have technical problems to solve and they have remote teams to manage. Just to make things a bit more interesting, it turns out that they also have another responsibility: find and recruit the team members of tomorrow. This is turning out to be a real challenge.

What today’s managers realize is that they are going to want their teams of tomorrow to be diverse teams. In order to make that happen, they are going to have to find ways to recruit diverse candidates. The engineering field has precious few diversity candidates in it right now. The number of African-Americans who are becoming engineers has remained the same over the past few years. Different industries are better at being diverse with the consumer-discretionary sector ranking high and the energy and materials sectors raked low. Managers who do a good job of recruiting diversity candidates do so by reaching out to college associations for women and people of color and by going into classrooms in low-income areas. If they can get children interested in robotics, then perhaps they will choose engineering as a career path. Hispanic workers may represent a significant portion of the people who will make up our future teams.

The good news for managers is that tomorrows workers are out there. However, they may not know that they want to grow up and enter into a technical field. This is why it is so important that managers take the time out of their already busy day and spend time with tomorrow’s workers today in order to show them how they can become team players. If we take the time and make the investment today, then we can have a real possibility of creating even better teams for tomorrow.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How much time do you think that managers should invest in developing the team members of tomorrow?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

One of the roles of being a manager is to find ways to make your team more productive. Hmm, maybe I should say that a different way. One of your roles is to prevent things from making your team less productive. Even since the pandemic wrapped up, we have all of sudden been having more and more face-to-face meetings. It’s almost like we want to do what we could not do for a year. However, these meetings are starting to kill everyone’s productivity. What is a manager to do?