It is a known and often very discussed fact that it is difficult to recruit and retain the best talent in the 3D printing industry. There is a talent shortage. Correct. But this talent shortage is not the only reason companies have difficulties placing talent in their empty positions.
From our experience, at Alexander Daniels Global, interviewing hundreds of candidates a month and by talking with our clients, there are three major barriers that stop companies from filling their vacant positions.
#1: Lack of geographic flexibility
The first barrier is a broad lack of geographic flexibility. The additive manufacturing industry is growing tremendously, but is still rather small. Because talent is often acquired from industries with synergies to additive manufacturing, the talent is spread out across the globe. Moreover, many AM facilities are based in remote locations outside of major cities, so attracting talent to here can be very challenging.
This means that many job offers include mandatory relocation, both nationally and internationally. This is often a deal breaker – especially for professionals with families – which unfortunately causes rejection of job offers, and essentially a waste of talent.
This graphic maps out where the 3D printing talent is located, on a global scale.
Secondly, there’s salary. It is an uncomfortable point of discussion that makes many people squirm. Nevertheless, it is often the number one deal breaker when negotiating a job offer.
This is common for most industries, but what makes the 3D printing industry especially vulnerable to this subject is its novelty. 3D printing has been around for decades but it only saw a big boom in production and in demand for human capacity a few years ago. Thus, there is yet to be established a salary benchmark. This essentially means that employers are throwing darts in terms of salary; they are simply not aware of what to pay their employees. This often results in undercompensating which leads to a lower offer-to-acceptance ratio.
Moreover, the talent shortage means that this industry is incestuous and often the talent moves between competitors and collaborators. Given the small size of the industry, people know each other. And they often know what each company is paying its employees. This may spark an urge to a change of company with a higher compensation.
#3: Companies require years of AM experience
As with most other industries, it is important for employers in the additive manufacturing industry to hire people with expertise and experience within their fields. Therefore, most job descriptions come with the “5+ years’ experience in AM” requirement.
There is just one problem with that. The 3D printing industry is rather young, and only really exploded on the big markets, such as the US, four to five years ago. Only a handful companies had people five to ten years ago, so only very few professionals have more than five years’ experience in AM. This is to say, that the 5+ years’ experience requirement is plainly unrealistic.
For certain areas, such as R&D, much of the talent is even still to be found in academia, and thus often have less than three years of experience.
Breaking down the barriers
#1: Geographic flexibility
To break down this barrier, companies should start to consider if it is crucial for the vacant position to be located at their offices, or if there may be room for a remote work arrangement.
Remote working arrangements may not be possible when it comes to intercontinental moves, but should be considered within the same country. As an example, even within the United States, where many AM facilities are located in remote areas, companies seem reluctant to offer remote working arrangements to secure the right talent. Because of the talent shortage, companies need to be more flexible if they want the best talent.
If remote working is not a possibility, companies should be ready to offer a highly attractive relocation package in which taxes, cost of living, etc., have been accounted for.
In order to know what salary to offer new employees, a salary benchmark is necessary.
To guide employers and employees on salary norms in this young industry, Alexander Daniels Global has conducted a salary benchmark study. The study was done across the world, to ensure its usefulness in all markets. To request the results of the study, please email email@example.com
#3: Required experience
Instead of specific experience within the AM industry, companies should increasingly be looking for people with experience within synergies with the AM industry, such as robotics, laser, and precision engineering.
Professionals with the right skills and eagerness to learn will often only need minimal training in the processes of additive manufacturing to become a perfect match for an AM position.
On top of that, if a rare candidate has the perfect CV, with several years of AM experience, they know what they are worth. And they will demand a salary thereafter. Thus, investing in talent and internally training them on AM may very well be a cost saving alternative for a hiring company.
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Signe Damgaard Jensen is the Social Media and Marketing Executive at Alexander Daniels Global.