How to Diversify Your Workforce Talent Pools with Intention and Maximize Results

Published: 23/3, 2023

By Julie Davis,

SHRM-CP, Sr. Director, Workforce and Industry Initiatives Association of Equipment

Manufacturers (AEM)


If you feel like there are fewer workers to be found these days, rest assured, you are correct. A decrease in the rate of births, declining since the 1970s, coupled with decreasing labor market participation, more job openings, a shortfall of immigrants and a surge of retirements, is creating a workforce problem that is hard to ignore.

Although we continue to experience the challenge, many of us still cling to the flawed idea that continuing to do what we’ve always done will somehow, some way, finally yield positive results. So, for those of you who need a bit more convincing, let’s take a look at the data, create some urgency around why you need to make some changes and then talk about potential new and effective approaches to recruiting.


The numbers don’t lie

The U.S. needs more than 2 million more people in the labor force to recover to the 63.4% labor force participation rate we had in February of 2020, just prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also need 175 million more people in the labor force to just bring us back to the number of people who were working at that time. (NOTE: The labor force participation rate is only a measure of currently employed individuals and people actively seeking work.)


Employment opportunities are plentiful

The job market is currently booming, with millions more jobs available than there were prior to COVID-19. As of early 2023, there are just over 10 million job openings, an increase of 3 million jobs from February of 2020. That means contractors with openings are not only competing with others in the industry, but also with all the interests, skills and talents one person has that overlap with every open position. There are many more opportunities to change career paths and just try something new. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average term workers stay with their respective job is four years. However, for those younger than 35, that average drops to 2.8 years.


Immigration may not

be a long-term solution

Many companies are looking to immigration to help offset their labor challenges. It is a hedged bet, however, and one that may help only in the short run. Consider the fact that net international migration is decreasing. Birth rates in many of countries we get immigrant workers from are slowing, and unemployment there is low. The onset of COVID-19 and advancement of restrictive immigration policies resulted in a sudden drop in our immigration numbers. At the beginning of 2022, we were running 2 million immigrants short of the trend taking place prior to 2019, the restaffing of immigration offices has allowed us to make up much of the lost ground. However, the past two years has shown the fragility of planning on immigration to close workforce gaps.


Retirements can’t be overlooked

The other workforce pressure we find ourselves experiencing is the growing retirement rates. Quite simply, it is something many of us knew was coming. However, it is also something for which many of us have not adequately prepared. The combined forces of fewer people, more jobs, uncertain immigration and a high level of retirements created a perfect environment for changing how we look at recruiting. After all, as we have learned, doing what we have always done is not even getting us what we use to get.


Recruitment efforts must change

Let’s approach recruitment with two ideas in mind—who’s available and willing to work, and of that group, who’s not represented in our workforce. This can be easily done by segmenting the workforce into population pools and determining the availability of each of the population pools. If you recruit from the mainstream pools you always use, you recruit from the pool with maximum competition.


When reviewing the

talent pools, a few things

should be considered:


• The largest most under-utilized talent pool with the highest rate of

unemployment is the second-chance

or ex-offender talent pool. Many

correctional facilities have skills

training programs that fit manufacturing needs. Approximately 650,000

second-chance citizens return to

their communities annually. The

chance of being a repeat offender drops significantly a person has a living-

wage job. If you have not engaged with this audience before, now is the time. The chances are good that you have neighboring businesses that are hiring from this talent pool. They’ll gladly testify that these employees

are some of the most loyal you can find.


• Manufacturing needs to draw from the

minority talent pool. Let’s stop

considering diversity optional and start finding creative ways to market to minority population pools. Think about where you’re placing your ads, what your wording implies about your

company culture, and ways that you

can invite this talent pool in and make them feel welcome.

See all news »

Cookies and Data Collection

This website is using cookies. A cookie is a small text file that the website requests to store locally on the visitor's computer. It contains a certain amount of information and a timestamp.

Cookies on this website

Temporary Cookies

We use temporary cookies ("sessions") in order to provide a functioning website. These cookies only contains a unique identifier and a timestamp, while any personal data is stored on our server. These cookies expires within one hour, and will be automatically deleted when you exit your webbrowser.

Less temporary cookies

In order to remember wether you have accepted cookies or not, we need to store a cookie containing a timestamp and a code. If you log in as a user on our website, you are also able to select wether you want to remain logged in or not. In case you decide to remain logged in, we will store another cookie on yuor device, also containing a code and a timestamp. No personal data is saved in these cookies. These cookies will expire and be automatically deleted within 30 days of your last visit, and you can delete them manually from within the webbrowser's settings.

Cookie for Google Analytics

We use Google Analytics in order to improve our vistor's experience on our website. We do not save PII (Personally Identifiable Information) using Google Analytics. To read more about the cookies stored, read more at Google Developers.

Inactivation of cookies

If you do not wish to accept cookies from our website (or others), you may turn it off in your webbrowsers security/privacy settings. You can also let your browser inform you each time a website tries to store a cookie, or choose to remove cookies that has already been stored.

See your browsers help pages in order to find out more on how to change these settings (the instructions will differ depending on what browser, operating system and what versions you are using).

Data Collection & Data Storage

The website may use Google Analytics and similar services to collect data about your visit on this website. No personal data is stored, only information about the visit itself, such as link clicks, page views, how long a certain page has been viewed and similar. The information can be used by us to analyze how visitors use our website, as well as to improve and optimize content and functionality on the website in the future. The information may also be used by Google (or an equivalent provider) to optimize information and ads, so that you receive more relevant/personalized search results or ads in the provider's other services.


This website use cookies
This website use cookies and data gathering to bring you the best possible experience.
You must accept this in order to get access to our content. - Read more »

Accept all Only necessary