July 21, 2021

Acquiring and Retaining Talent for Tomorrow

Finding the right people is important for any company today. The pace of technological developments; the fierce competition for high-quality, low-cost products; and the ever-increasing demands of the end consumer to drive the most successful companies to a new level of performance.

As a result, companies need to have a new breed of employees both at the helm and in the ranks: professionals who are ready to learn and pivot as well as workers who are engaged and dedicated to an organization’s overall mission. All aspects of human resources continue to evolve, from finding and training the best and the brightest to holding onto that talent for the long run.

"Employees will demand that companies provide them with the training and development to keep up."

Labor Outlook for the Steel Industry

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment outlook in the steel industry is projected to grow 11% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The projection is based on the fact that construction of major projects like high-rise buildings is expected to continue while the need to maintain and repair older infrastructure will increase.

Globally, the demand for steel is projected to grow through 2025. According to BusinessWire, developments such as the increasing rate of high-speed trains in countries like China, Japan and India have boosted construction of special rail roads. In fact, the global spending in the construction sector is expected to reach $14 trillion by 2025, further enhancing the demand of crude steel and the talent to support that production.

Seeking Talent in Unexpected Places

Although the old-fashioned ways of acquiring talent, including job posting, networking, and working with educational institutions, are still popular and effective, the age of technological and global connectivity introduce a wealth of other avenues of acquiring top-notch talent. Here are some possibilities for the steel industry:

  • Association for Iron and Steel Technology: Professional associations can be an excellent place to discover individuals dedicated to a particular industry. Attending conferences or participating in other association activities can not only introduce you to seasoned professionals but also to exceptional students and young talent.
  • LinkedIn: Social media platforms like LinkedIn provide a space to network online on an ongoing basis. Use these platforms not only to fill a current position but also to keep an eye out for prospective talent. Posts, blogs and other information posted on LinkedIn can help you get to know an individual’s particular strengths and specialties.
  • Within Your Supply Chain: Just like in any industry, steel professionals tend to move between organizations and even job functions. As the supply chain becomes more transparent in upcoming years, look for talent up or downstream of your particular business.
  • Those Seeking You: Whether your company is in a position to hire or not, remember that job seekers are keeping an eye on you. Peer reviews rule in just about every area of life today and that includes job-related decisions. According to a report by The Muse, 85% of those surveyed said a company’s reputation is important or very important when they are considering a job. This reputation includes not only a general industry perception, but more importantly what employees are saying on social media and as part of online review platforms.

Retaining Top Talent for the Long Haul

Finding and filling a position with the steel industry can be a significant investment. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average cost-per-hire in the United States is $4,129. Depending on your ability to retain top employees, this cost can quickly add up.

The good news is that, contrary to popular belief, employees are actually staying at their jobs longer than in past years. According to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure for an employee in 2018 was 4.2 years. This is a marked increase from 1983 when the average employee tenure was around 3.5 years. Some of the top reasons that employees remain at the same company include:

  • Global Diversity: According to Glass Door, roughly two-thirds of passive and active job seekers say that diversity in the workplace is important to them. In our ever-shrinking global economy, the ability to attract and retain employees from different cultural and geographic backgrounds can be a significant competitive advantage.
  • Upskilling Opportunities: As technological advances such as artificial intelligence and machine learning speed forward, employees will demand that companies provide them with the training and development to keep up. According to McKinsey, an average of 400 million jobs could be displaced by automation on average by 2030. Businesses that can help employees upskill and stay relevant and valuable into future decades will successfully retain talent.
  • Locale Flexibility: In an increasingly digitally connected world, the physical location of a job must become a factor in retaining talent. More professionals that do not need to be tied to a physical location will want the flexibility to work where and when they prefer. For those jobs that require a physical location, the opportunity for international experiences is in high demand. In fact, a survey by the Boston Consulting Group and The Network found 64% of people worldwide say they would move internationally for the right job.


The global steel industry is positioned for steady growth into future, which will fuel demand for top talent within a wide variety of companies. However, as digital disruption and technological developments continue to advance, companies must be able to pivot in how they are seeking, acquiring, and retaining the best and the brightest. Making these changes in how human capital is viewed and treated will help steel companies rise to the market challenges of tomorrow.