Here are seven trends that will help to shape the workforce in the plastics industry in 2018:
• Shale boom impact. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the shale boom will bring America a plastics renaissance. Increasing production of ethane and propane are set to be real game-changers when it comes to U.S. competitiveness, investments and the addition of high-quality U.S. jobs that pay well, including construction and engineering.
• Global demand requires human capital. Polyethylene will continue to be the most widely used plastic resin in the world. According to Freedonia Group, the market will reach $164 billion in 2018. The Asia-Pacific will continue to be the largest and fastest-growing market.
• M&A activity to continue. There's a lot of money-chasing going on in the plastics industry right now. M&A activity helps plastics companies acquire technology, enter new markets, improve profit and productivity, and reduce overall expenses. However, layoffs often follow, with the hardest hit areas being human resources, communications, training and customer relations.
• Workforce development remains the top challenge. Over the past six years, plastics executives have rated workforce development — including training, recruiting and retaining — as a top challenge.
• Widespread adoption of people analytics. As millennials move into management roles, they're turning to big data to better understand the effectiveness of people practices, programs and processes. Ultimately, employee dashboards like Microsoft MyAnalytics will help managers make decisions about their workforce.
• Candidate-driven job market continues. For job seekers, this is great news. It means they have the power to be very selective regarding job opportunities and employers. For employers, this means it's high time to review talent acquisition strategies.
• Social media's role in recruiting. Finding passive job candidates, which accounts for 82 percent of recruits, continues to be the top reason that organizations use social media for recruitment. LinkedIn remains the most popular tool.
David Peterson is managing partner of Direct Recruiters Inc.