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Talent Talk: A Whole New Vocabulary for Hiring Personnel

Dean Mitchell/iStock via Getty Images young man seated alone in waiting area
All those new words and phrases boil down to one thing: There isn’t enough skilled labor to satisfy the needs of plastics processors.

If you were a hiring manager, HR manager, or recruiter during the past few years, you have added quite a few new words and phrases to your lexicon­ — demographic transition, the great reset, quiet quitting, the demographic drought, the great resignation, and sansdemic, just to name a few.

The new vocabulary is an effort to describe something that is unprecedented. Historians, demographers, and others will be sorting this out and writing about it for decades.

We all know that the baby boomer generation, born in the 18 years following the end of WWII, was unusually large. In the peak years around 1957 to 1961, there were 4.3 million births per year. Today, with a population about double what it was back then, we have fewer actual births per year. The birth rate per 1,000 was in the 20 to 24 range during the boomer period. Today it is half the peak rate, around 12 per 1,000.

And so, we are facing a sansdemic, meaning “without people,” or for our purposes, “a workforce with not enough people.”

This means that the 2023 talent market will be highly competitive, especially in the plastics sector. The layoffs you read and hear about are largely coming from sectors such as technology, construction, retail, and hospitality. For the most part, that is not the talent our industry is looking for.

I wish I could say, “Hey, just hang in there and we’ll get through this,” but consider that by 2034 older adults will outnumber children in the United States. There really is no end in sight, which means your company needs to have an aggressive hiring and retention plan in place now.

Another potential solution is increasing the use of automation, but for most in the plastics industry the low-hanging fruit has been collected. When it comes to talent, there isn’t enough to satisfy every company, which will mean winners and losers.


About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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