This Friday is Manufacturing Day, a chance for young people to see manufacturing in action across America.
Manufacturers from an array of industries will be opening up their doors to students, parents, educators, youth groups, and media in an attempt to improve the image of manufacturing careers and provide information on career opportunities, training, and other resources.
Last year the event drew 35,000 attendees to over 800 manufacturing facilities around the country and this year is expected to be even bigger.
There’s little doubt that initiatives like this are much-needed. According to recent research, over half of American teens have never visited a manufacturing facility, and only one-quarter of teens have ever taken a shop class.
A downturned economy has also negatively impacted the number of in-house apprenticeships and internships available to young people.
Conversely, there’s a growing need for skilled workers across the board as baby boomers retire and manufacturing jobs begin to reshore in response to changing economics and increased risk in traditionally low-cost-labor countries.
Over 60 percent of manufacturers are currently experiencing a shortage of qualified skilled workers, while more U.S. companies are winning back manufacturing business previously off-shored.
So why aren’t more young people going into manufacturing?
The majority of Americans believe that manufacturing is essential to a prosperous economy and quality standard of living, yet there remains a perception that manufacturing careers are second-rate and entail mostly backbreaking, mindless labor.
The evidence shows that today’s parents tend to steer their kids away from manufacturing careers, and many teachers and counselors often feel compelled to push students toward four-year college degrees rather than positioning manufacturing as a viable and preferred career choice.
Manufacturing Day is an opportunity to dispel the lack-luster image of manufacturing. Industry is encouraged to clean shop, show off its snappiest technology, provide hands-on experiences, and discuss the high-tech skills required in today’s manufacturing jobs.
Find a Manufacturing Day event near you.