Getting Young Americans Excited About Manufacturing

traditionIt’s becoming well known throughout the manufacturing industry that there’s a skilled labor shortage, and that it’s projected to get worse. From machinists to metal workers, there are jobs out there, but not enough qualified people to fill them.

Manufacturing Day, which recently took place on October 4, sought to open up manufacturers’ doors and showcase the true value in American manufacturing, and the potential careers in it provide. With over 800 participating manufacturers and thousands of students and educators having experienced it, it was considered a great success.

However, we can’t stop at Manufacturing Day—we have to keep the conversation going, and continue encouraging students and young people to consider careers in the industry. A recent survey “found that 52% of teenagers 13 to 17 years old had little or no interest in a manufacturing career and another 21% were ambivalent.”* Furthermore, a “second survey found that many American adults no longer work with their hands, either for pleasure in their hobbies or to make repairs around the home,” meaning kids don’t have parents and relatives who can encourage them to do so.

So what’s to be done? While this is, indeed, a challenge, all hope is not lost. We as a country need to get together and encourage our children to study STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—and realize the importance of this. We need to show them that manufacturing is exciting, as is creating something tangible that so many people rely on. We need to show them that those computers they love can be used to create technologically advanced products.

After all, manufacturing is not what it used to be, and it’s important to get that message out there. It’s not a dirty job, nor is it menial. Today’s manufacturing requires skills, brains, and training. It also can be pretty cool—after all, nowadays, highly-technical robots are involved.

Manufacturing Day was a great first step, but it’s important to keep that going and consistently show young Americans how and why manufacturing careers are a great choice.