You have an open sign in your window, right next to the “Help Wanted” sign. Everyone knows you’re there, and you’re hiring. Right? Wrong. The employees you need — young, curious, digital natives — have no idea who you are or what you do . You need to open your mind to new methods of finding employees and open your doors to young people. It’s time to show — not tell.There are a few easy ways to get the word out to potential employees and break down the barriers that keep young people out of manufacturing, according to experts from the IMTS Job Shop Specialty Program at IMTS 2022. In the digital part two of the Workforce Development and Retention panel, Andrew Crowe, founder of the New American Manufacturing Renaissance, and Nicole Wolter, president & CEO at HM Manufacturing, joined host Chris Czarnik, CEO at Career [RE]Search Group, to offer tips for building your workforce by building your brand. 1. Open your doors. Invite students, teachers, and parents into your shop! Show them that manufacturing isn’t dirty, dull, or dangerous! Host an open house, participate in manufacturing day, or invite groups from local middle schools, high schools, and technical schools. Talk to principals and guidance counselors and social workers. Bring the people in!“We are always showing off our shop. When students can see you take a piece of raw material and make it into something that looks like art but that has a practical purpose, they get it,” Wolter says. 2. Open your mind to social media. Social media isn’t going anywhere. You should be using different channels to connect with different demographics. Especially for recruitment, you need to go where Gen Z is — and that’s on Tik Tok and YouTube. Think of social media as your chance to open the digital doors to your shop. “We call this new generation ‘screenagers,’” Crowe says. “They have fully assimilated technology into their lives. With Industry 4.0 and innovative equipment, manufacturing has what they love: technology. We just have to show them that manufacturing can be the vehicle to help them be anything they want to be.”3. Open the mic to your younger employees. The best way to reach young workers is with other young workers. Wolter points out that she frequently enlists interns to help with social media, and they always have innovative ideas and approaches that wouldn’t have occurred to her. Crowe adds that young workers who enjoy their roles are uniquely positioned to serve as brand ambassadors — recruiting their peers by talking about the work they are doing. Have your interns demo a machine or give a shop tour and share it with their friends and network. Get young people talking about manufacturing. For more information about workforce development, job shops, and all things manufacturing, tune into IMTS+ for added content. 
Breaking down the barriers that keep new workers out of manufacturing starts with being open — from opening the doors to your shop to opening the mic for young employees.