Solutions to Pick, Place and Empower People in Additive Manufacturing


Is the skills gap the only thing hindering the progress of the Additive Manufacturing industry?

In this, the final part of the series, we’ve outlined 5 key factors that, based on industry feedback and our experience, companies need to address to allow them to be successful in this market.

Part 3 – The Solutions

In the first 2 parts of our article, we’ve highlighted the reasons why traditional recruitment methods are inhibiting the growth and development of the AM industry.

·       Lack of real strategies, or hiring strategies.

·       The lack of a mature recruitment industry for Additive Manufacturing

·       Outdated attraction processes still being applied across the board

We’ve called this section “The Solutions” and, in line with the paradigm shift we discussed in part 2, here are 5 things that companies can be doing right now to attract and retain talent.

1.     Be flexible. The ability and willingness to flex to what the market is telling us is probably the most important factor that determines success or failure. Overly complicated jobspecs only hinder the recruitment process in this industry.  A better solution is to consult with a recruiter that understands the market, and can help you identify the best way(s) to build your AM team and execute your overarching strategy.

Ultimately you only need to hire one person in each process, and of course that person needs to be right, but the idea that you need a shortlist of 5 candidates, who all need to have a certain level of education and experience, will only make the search process more complicated and time consuming for you and your chosen recruitment company. In our experience, it’s more important for you to understand exactly what you’re trying to achieve, and to be able to work with an experienced recruiter with the kind of network to be able to advise you on various directions in which you could go, depending on which candidate(s) you want to hire.

2.     Be sure of why. It’s fair to say that the best people in the industry share some fairly simple traits. They share a similar value system, and they want to commit to a vision, work towards a goal and leave a legacy. If a good candidate feels that their employer doesn’t have a real strategy and doesn’t understand exactly what they’re trying to do with the technology, that’s the time when companies should expect their best people to be looking around. It’s important to remember you’re competing against other companies that also want to win, so doing the work and continually investing the time in your attraction and retention strategies is the only way to keep you ahead of your competitors.

John Barnes says that “What we’re seeing is Gen Xers and Millennials value flexibility in location and working hours, but most importantly want to have an impact.  They have choices on where to go, so it’s the clarity and plan that will attract them”.  These talented individuals want to be working towards making that impact right now, so if you’re not sure of exactly what direction you want to take your strategy in, that’s probably the time when you should be seeking external support from a consultant like John who can provide that invaluable experience, having advised on, and been involved with numerous collaborative programs for Additive Manufacturing.

3.     Alignment – This needs to be internal as well as external. It’s massively important that hiring managers, Human Resources and the company board all agree upon what is needed and why. It’s also vital that you take heed of the research and advice that experienced consultants provide, relating to what type of skillsets are out there, and how much it’s going to cost to bring those skills into your organisation. Candidates and clients need to be realistic and honest about what they want to achieve, and those goals need to be aligned for the relationship to move forward and be sustainable for the long haul. We’ve been involved in some seriously long processes as well as some incredibly fast hires. We’ve successfully managed VISA applications, cost of living adjustments, mind-blowing salary increases and everything in-between. If all the parties in the process are absolutely serious and clear about what they’re doing, and want to work together, then you can and will achieve success.

4.     Deal with the difficult stuff now – Chances are that the perfect individual to implement your AM strategy won’t be living on your doorstep; If one candidate happens to live in a place where they can commute every day then great, but it’s highly unlikely. Be mindful that if you want the best team in the world for your AM division, the search will usually need to be global. With that in mind, it’s probably worth considering the implications of trying to hire somebody from overseas. Moving people from one country to another can be tricky, but it’s much easier if you tackle the complications around things like work visas before you start. It’s also worth considering that your company policy on relocation assistance will need to be configured in such a way that it makes the process of moving candidates geographically, simple and smooth.

5.     Salaries – The key thing to know about salaries in additive manufacturing is that they bear absolutely no relation to the salary bandings that exist within your core business. In our experience, if you try and compare them directly, you’ll struggle to recruit the kind of people you need. Competition for these people is fierce and, as we might have already mentioned, they’re in relatively short supply. Bottom line, to get the best people in this market, you have to be prepared to pay for them.

We’ve seen a number of salary surveys that position themselves as a rough industry guideline, but to really understand what you need to pay to secure the best talent, we need to run a bespoke, project-specific pricing exercise for you, based on a number of factors which are unique to you and your requirements. Experience tells us that “generic” doesn’t work in this industry, and we know there’s no uniformity when it comes to salaries. With AM job titles varying so wildly from company to company, the suggestion that an applications role, for example, should pay more than a process role, has no real foundation in reality.


The point we’re trying to emphasise is that we don’t have all the answers, but it’s fair to say that every recruitment assignment for skilled talent in AM should start with a consultative, aligning process. In our experience, it’s far better to be prepared to change what you’re looking for before you start the recruitment process, then to be told 6 weeks into the search that “what you want doesn’t actually exist”, or that “it does exist, but it’s going to cost you a lot more money than you originally thought”

Additae and The Barnes Group Advisors have extensive experience of successfully delivering Additive Manufacturing programs and solutions in Europe, the US and beyond. We provide impartial advice on your strategy, and can connect you with experienced individuals who can help to transform your vision into reality.