What will be the top talent trends in the plastics workplace in 2016?
As the director of plastics for Direct Recruiters Inc. (DRI), I see a number of talent trends already taking shape and continuing over the next year including new technology, another generation entering the workforce, the widening of leadership gaps, the demand for hybrid talent, and high industry growth.
Internet of Things (IOT). Talk about a technology revolution! IOT is emerging as the next technology mega-trend across the business spectrum including the plastics industry. The IOT is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. While IOT has been in the industry since 2014, we'll witness more things being connected to the Internet every day and in turn, experience improved efficiencies, productivity and job growth.
The IOT revolution means workers need to develop new skills to keep up especially if you're an IT professional. The IOT means a job boom for developers, coders, and hardware professionals having big data knowledge, excellent communication skills, and security knowledge.
Gen Z will enter the workforce in large numbers this May. Generation Z, a.k.a. Gen Z, are those born between 1994 and 2004 (although there's been no general agreement on exact years). The generation will be entering the workforce in greater numbers this Spring. They are the most digitally connected generation yet. They have no concept about life before the Internet, mobile devices, digital games, or iTunes. Therefore, they are very tech savvy and even more entrepreneurial than Millennials. However, they tend to be more loyal and flexible in their approach to careers. They will choose career opportunities that provide quick advancement and work/life balance over salary and want mentors to help them achieve their goals.
Leadership gap widens as Boomers in plastics industry begin to retire. Many more Baby Boomers are expected to retire in 2016 and some of them from high-level corporate leadership positions. There's enough available talent to these fill vacancies but the problem is one of perception, and professional development. According to the Global Workforce Leadership Survey, organizations simply aren't doing enough to develop potential leaders, especially those up-and-comers from the millennial generation. Therefore, succession planning will continue to be a high priority for most organizations.
Hybrid talent is in demand. Hybrid jobs are the future of jobs and the hybrid employee is on the rise. Whether it's in IT, engineering, finance, sales, marketing or human resources, hybrid jobs are growing each year. Hybrid employees are considered a generalist and a specialist all in one. A generalist tends to be someone who knows quite a few technologies but only at an average level. A specialist knows only one or two but at an expert level. A hybrid knows about a great many things at an advanced level and can adapt to any type of project. With a hybrid employee, employers are basically getting two people in one.
Industry job growth continues. The plastics industry has been one of the U.S. economy's largest and fastest-growing industry sectors. In fact, it's listed as the third U.S. manufacturing industry, behind the petroleum and automotive industries and ahead of basic chemicals. According to SPI and its president and CEO, Bill Carteaux, “The data shows that the U.S. plastics industry is setting records across the world as a major force driving employment, innovation and product and material sales.” In 2014, the U.S. plastics industry employed more than 940,000 people and saw a record $427.3 billion in shipments. In addition, the innovation has been unstoppable and as a result, new jobs will be created in 2016 and beyond.
David Peterson is managing partner & director of plastics for Direct Recruiters Inc., an executive search firm in Cleveland.