By Chris Phelan
Today we celebrate Manufacturing DaySM.
As someone who, up until recently, has spent an entire career in manufacturing, I cannot think of a better way to raise awareness and appreciation of the manufacturing industry than with this annual national event. Manufacturing has afforded me the opportunity to design and produce innovative new products, to see those products being used around the world, to travel to interesting places like the Arctic Circle and Hong Kong, and to meet Lee Iacocca, the former chairman of Chrysler.
Now that I’m with Skillsoft, I may be involved in a completely different way, but I still enjoy and get a kick out of seeing the impact Manufacturing Day has across the country and it, along with the recent growth of the industry, reinforces my belief that manufacturing is heading in the right direction.
So what exactly is Manufacturing Day?
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, Manufacturing Day began in 2012 as “an annual celebration of modern manufacturing. Manufacturers invite students, educators, businesspeople, media and politicians to their facilities in a collective effort to educate visitors about manufacturing careers and improve public perceptions of manufacturing.”
In other words, it is a day meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.
A 2015 study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, highlighted that the manufacturing industry is facing a critical shortage of skilled workers. From now until 2025, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled, mainly due to the impending retirement of 2.7 million baby boomers. It has been estimated that 2 million of these jobs will go unfilled due to a shortage of skilled workers to take their place.
The study also makes it clear that to ensure their growth in the years ahead, manufacturing organizations need to attract a steady influx of highly skilled workers. When you consider that manufacturing employs 57% of US scientists and engineers and is the 9th largest economy in the world (www.nist.gov), these companies also need to invest in reskilling their existing workers, as most manufacturing jobs now require sophisticated technical and problem-solving skills.
In short, the future success of manufacturing as a whole depends on attracting a steady stream of talented people into this industry, and in expanding the knowledge and skills of the existing workforce.
Participating in Manufacturing Day is a great way to help accomplish this.
In 2012, there were just 240 Manufacturing Day events held in the U.S. In 2016, it had risen to 2,807. Manufacturing Day is inspiring thousands of young people to be the engineers, scientists, technicians and skilled tradespeople that manufacturing organizations will need to successfully close the gaps and thrive in the years ahead. Moreover, it is inspiring more and more manufacturing organizations to open their doors to educate the public through open house tours and events.
So what can you do to celebrate this day?
- If you are a parent of a middle school or high school student, consider accompanying your child to a local Manufacturing Day event. In addition to the events being held on October 6, there will be additional events held throughout the month. I can speak from personal experience that working in manufacturing offers a very exciting, rewarding and well-paying career for both women and men.
- If you work for a manufacturing company, the future success of your employer may be at stake. Consider making your employer aware of Manufacturing Day if they are not already aware.
- If you run a manufacturing company, you definitely want to be ahead of the curve on attracting the skilled workers of the future. Start planning now. The middle and high school students of today will be the highly skilled workers you will need to remain relevant in 2025.
For more information on an event near you, please visit http://www.mfgday.com/events.
Chris Phelan is a Manufacturing Industry Principal at Skillsoft.