Manufacturing Day Celebrates New Workers
On October 7th manufacturing companies across the nation opened their doors to millions of students for Manufacturing Day, giving a new generation of workers a chance to explore opportunities in the field. With 2 million manufacturing jobs projected to go unfilled over the next decade, manufacturers are working to change the perception of new jobs, and show how important this industry is to each community, state, and to America. Demonstrations, events, and speeches held during Manufacturing Day show how companies are building enthusiasm among new workers, and how these practices can be adopted year-round to bridge the labor gap.
An economic recession and loss of jobs to outsourcing scarred public perception regarding manufacturing jobs, especially among young people. Manufacturing Day events from Oklahoma to Mississippi to Illinois and Michigan all opened with a very important point; manufacturing jobs are available and competition among workers is low. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will open over the next decade, with 2 million going unfilled. As companies stress that American manufacturing businesses are actively seeking domestic talent, workers will take notice.
While touring factory floors and speaking with current employees during Manufacturing Day, visiting students learned that the average manufacturing job yields $80,000 a year with benefits. Also, workers in the Midwest—the backbone of American manufacturing—also get to stay close to home. Applicants can also get into a job sooner, and apprenticeships or work-study programs often pay for education and training, bypassing the crushing debt facing many college hopefuls. Bopp Busch hired a new Tool & Die Journeyman through their own apprenticeship program, with a long list of applicants proving that apprenticeship opportunities hold a high value for new workers.
Manufacturing Day events in Westlake, OH allowed students to try out virtual welding, while another in Muskogee, Oklahoma invited visitors to run their own simulated factory. These demonstrations not only allow potential workers to try out important skills and techniques, but also make manufacturing jobs relatable and even fun. Bringing these demonstrations into schools or creating more visiting opportunities to the business can potentially introduce students to exciting opportunities earlier in their education and help them consider manufacturing fields sooner.
Touring a company, listening to workers, and witnessing jobs first-hand shows students that manufacturing jobs are no longer “dull, dirty, dangerous, and disappearing.” These jobs require education and training, and often deal with cutting-edge technology including 3D printing, augmented reality, and advanced robotics. Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez emphasized this point in his speech at a Manufacturing Day demonstration, encouraging students to, “Be visionary. Don’t stop at learning specific skills.”