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The 3D Printing War For Talent

by Amro Shanshal |

This blog was developed using the webinar that Dr Mike Vasquez presented for America Makes.The link to recorded webinar is found at the bottom of the page.

As 3D Printing becomes more widespread, companies both large and small recognize the need to attract new talent with the skills needed to capture opportunities created by this new technology. Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a developing and perplexing technology that requires a solid hiring strategy to attract the talent with the skill sets that match the technology. Different departments across a company must collaborate to ensure they have a neat blueprint for hiring students, and engage in enthusiastic practices that captivate employees, especially with the increasing demand for 3D printing jobs.

According to A.T. Kearney, there will be 3 million new 3D printing jobs by the year 2027, which is roughly a 42% increase from 2017, and those include jobs in operations, engineering and logistics [1]. There are many recruitment, and hiring challenges for manufacturing, such as lack of STEM skills, millennials’ negative perception of the manufacturing industry, and companies not having a complete Additive Manufacturing strategy. Higher Education institutions are seeking to advance 3D printing and are working hand in hand with the industry to train and educate students about 3D printing technologies.

Currently, universities have three rankings of Additive Manufacturing education, resources and involvement. First, the limited level, where only small amount of AM equipment are available, and there are no classes or programs dedicated to AM. Second is moderate, where the university offer a few semester long AM focused courses, have a few professors working on AM related research, and have less than three AM production machines. Finally, the third level being the extensive, the university offers a degree specific to AM, have groups dedicated to AM research, and AM consortium. On the other hand, community college are also adapting 3D printing, and are developing courses and programs specific to the technology. Companies can hire talent from any of these three levels, however, they must highlight the type of workers they need, understand and give the opportunities the students are looking for when evaluating a job.

3Degrees conducted a survey to help find the gap in hiring for 3D printing, and create a strategy to fill the gap, using student responses. The survey had over 60 student responses from top 30 global universities. Many of the respondents where from colleges that offer AM labs, classes or programs. The survey included questions about 3D printing experience, types of skill sets, most important factors when considering an Additive Manufacturing job, and encountered situations during the hiring process. The survey results were compelling, and most of the respondents were college seniors, juniors and graduate students.

Familiarity with 3D printing begins early for college students, as the majority heard about 3D printing before college, and during freshman and sophomore year. This statistic is appealing because the earlier the students hear about 3D printing, the more likely they are to take time to explore it further and consider it for as a career. Furthermore, around 57% of the students have explored Additive Manufacturing for a full-time profession, the number is expected to increase as the technology is rapidly advancing and demanding workers. Contrary to expectation, students picked money as their third priority as to why the Additive Manufacturing industry appeals to them, the type of work ranked first, followed by the opportunity for advancement. Given this data, companies should prioritize finding interesting projects for their employees to work on, and consistently seek to advance their 3D printing technology.

In the era of technology, job search has become more web based, especially with the popular job posting websites that are excelling at attracting more people. Based on the survey results, the number one method that is used by students to search for internships or work opportunities is through web searches, while career fairs ranked second, followed by professor connections. Companies must invest time to develop successful strategies on how to attract talent from these three categories. Companies should care less about their size, as small and medium sized companies are the most appealing to new graduates. There are several successful qualities that a company can utilize to attract talent during the hiring process, and keep employees interested in their company.

In order to find valuable talent, it is important for a company to be honest about Additive Manufacturing. It is critical for an organization to define its goals, identify and label different roles and responsibilities, and map out the career trajectory for new hires. Building a reputation on campus does not require huge investments. Internally, a company must identify the leading schools, departments and professors in 3D printing and invest time to build a rapport with them. Additionally, a company should mine their internal networks to identify potential links to target schools. On campus, the company should get to know the campus, school calendar and collect information on key student clubs. Using that information, a company should host information sessions, webinars, tours and sponsor student clubs and competitions.

An outstanding hiring mechanism requires effort, a strong strategy, patience and enthusiasm, however, there are key things to remember. First, an organization must focus on their communication, interview and recruitment process. Second, building an internal culture that delivers on what an organization is selling. Finally, being authentic to the organization and people. Once a company succeeds at adapting these traits, students will seek to work for their company, and employees will put in the effort to achieve great results.

Watch the full webinar using the link below to get a full break down from Dr. Mike Vasquez on the 3D printing war for talent, and how your company can succeed at attracting the right talent:


[1] 3D Printing and the Future of the US Economy - A.T. Kearney. ATKEARNEY, Printing and the Future of the US Economy.pdf/7719fc50-50b9-6194-4c4c-c3de38e9a88c.

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