Unlocking Talent: Navigating Trends and Challenges in Additive Manufacturing


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The additive manufacturing (AM) industry has seen remarkable growth over the years, evidenced by a significant rise in professionals joining its ranks. Across North America, EMEA, and APAC, approximately 86,000+ new professionals entered the field in 2024, marking a notable increase of over 12,000+ compared to the previous year (2024 Additive Manufacturing Salary Survey Report).

However, amidst this growth lies a nuanced landscape. In 2023, a shift occurred, with a slight uptick in professionals expressing a strong inclination to change jobs within the next 12 months. This change, coupled with a decrease in those unlikely to switch roles, reflects the impact of industry layoffs, prompting individuals to seek stability until the job market regains equilibrium.

Delving deeper into these shifts reveals intriguing insights. The desire to change jobs surged by 16% among those inclined, while a 22.3% decrease was observed in those reluctant to transition. Such dynamics raise pertinent questions about how AM employers can attract and retain top talent in this competitive arena.

Changing Dynamics in Job Preferences

Contrary to previous years, 2023 witnessed a notable shift in professionals’ job preferences. There was a slight increase in individuals expressing a high likelihood of changing jobs within the next 12 months, potentially influenced by industry-wide layoffs prompting job market caution.

Intriguingly, there was a 16% increase in professionals considering a job change while a 22.3% decrease was observed in those adamantly opposed to such a move. This evolving sentiment underscores the fluidity of the talent market and prompts a critical question: How can AM employers attract and retain top talent amidst such dynamics?

Addressing Motivators: Beyond Salary

Salary remains a primary motivator for talent, with 80.8% of respondents to the AM Salary Survey citing it as the leading factor propelling job changes in 2024—a notable 8% increase from the previous year. However, considerations extend beyond financial compensation.

In connection to this, a significant proportion—30.1%—of AM Talent still feel inadequately compensated. Encouragingly, there has been a 50% decrease in this sentiment over the past two years, indicating a positive trend in perceived fairness in compensation, particularly when compared with other similar industries.

However, factors such as work-life balance and company culture also wield significant influence (when salary is not considered). A poll conducted on LinkedIn in 2023 highlighted company culture as a pivotal factor, particularly in mitigating toxic workplace environments, further emphasizing the significance of fostering positive workplace environments to retain talent.

Navigating Career Progression: A Key Priority

Career progression emerges as the second most significant motivator for job changes in 2024, underscoring the ambition of AM professionals to advance in their careers. An overwhelming 83.5% consider it either important or very important, reflecting a collective drive for upward mobility.

Identifying areas for improvement is crucial in facilitating career advancement. Nearly half of respondents express a need to enhance business acumen, recognizing the importance of understanding market dynamics and revenue generation. Similarly, proficiency in people management and AM business cases and applications are identified as vital areas for upskilling, reflecting a broader trend towards business-oriented skill sets amidst a growing emphasis on sales roles within the industry, and highlighting an opportunity for employers to retain top talent through offering opportunities for upskilling internally.

Conclusion: Nurturing Talent in a Dynamic Landscape

As the AM industry continues to evolve, nurturing talent remains paramount. Understanding shifting motivations and addressing areas of improvement are essential in attracting and retaining top professionals. By prioritizing competitive compensation, fostering positive workplace cultures, and facilitating avenues for career growth and development, employers can navigate the evolving landscape and emerge as leaders in talent management within the additive manufacturing sphere.

The 2024 AM Salary Survey Report

Employers in the AM industry should download a copy of the most recent AM Salary Survey Report to gain a better understanding of the talent market dynamics at play in the additive manufacturing industry today.

A free copy can be downloaded from the Alexander Daniels Global website.

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