Winning over millennials with career progression

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In industries like manufacturing, attracting millennials is proving a challenge, with companies struggling to recruit and retain young talent. But why is this? What’s missing from their talent management strategies which means younger candidates are not drawn to these kinds of industries?

With 52% of millennials stating that career progression is their main attraction to an employer, strong training and development initiatives and clearly defined career paths are vital in winning over young talent. So what does this look like in practice?

Set clearly defined career pathways

With 71% of millennials strongly believing that employers should provide clear guidelines for earning promotions, setting defined career pathways is important in order to retain young people. Work with each employee to set a career path with both short and long term objectives and clearly defined requirements and details about what is expected of them and what they should expect to get back in terms of development and progression.

Career paths are ever evolving as employees learn new skills and identify new areas of work they are interested in, so regularly reviewing them is important. They will need to be aligned with the training and development that the employee undertakes – these are the stepping stones to move along the career pathway.

Offer a rich programme of training and development

Offering employees the opportunity to expand their skillset is two-fold in terms of the benefits; employees feel challenged and recognised, and employers reap the benefits from having skilled staff. Training programmes can be internal initiatives, on-the-job learning or via an external provider. The opportunities are endless, from day-long courses to full qualifications via colleges. At Thomas, our training covers both soft and hard skills, so we offer training around subjects such as time management, managing emotions, and much more, as well as funding for function-specific external training and qualifications.

It’s important to see training and development as bespoke to each individual – don’t just group your employees into one and offer blanket training. Work with each employee to find out their specific development needs and use this as a starting point to decide what sort of training and development would be most useful.

Design an effective mentoring initiative

Mentoring programmes are great in helping to upskill new employees and helping them to settle in to the company culture. Mentees gain practical advice, encouragement and support and can learn from the experiences of their mentors. In industries like manufacturing where the number of older employees often outnumber the number of younger hires, a mentoring programme is a great initiative as not only does it benefit the mentee for all of the aforementioned reasons, but it is also a rewarding and motivating activity for the mentor.

Running a programme of mentoring fosters loyal employees which contributes to strong retention rates, creates a positive and collaborative working environment and conveys to employees that an organisation is committed to investing in its employees.


Although we talk about ‘millennials’ as a group and what they look for in an employer, it’s important to still appreciate individuality – millennials, as with every generation, are still individuals and will each have their own sets of needs, wants and, priorities. As HR professionals or managers it’s crucial to tailor the support offered for career progression specifically to the person they are working with. If this is done effectively, you’ll be able to recruit and retain top talent – generation after generation.

We have solutions to support the recruitment and development of millennials in your organisation.

Get in touch using the form below to find out more.

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