My first engineering job was a summer internship in an automotive manufacturing facility in Canada. Hardcore work was done there to machine engine blocks. I was the only American, the only female (other than the cafeteria workers) and the youngest person on the factory floor. It was quite the introduction to life as an engineer and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t rough. But it was also fascinating to experience manufacturing firsthand. I got to work with complex machinery and automation processes that efficiently produced the engine blocks with extreme precision. I learned about lean manufacturing and quality control. I earned a very high salary. And I know that the experience made me a better engineer.
Given my manufacturing history and my current focus on STEM, I was eager to read the US Public Opinion Of Manufacturing study written by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. This 6th release of the study provides insights about manufacturing job growth and summarizes the public’s views about the sector.
A few of the points I found most salient were…
- The scarcity of STEM talent is impacting manufacturing with an anticipated shortage of 2 million workers over the next 10 years.
- 83% of Americans believe manufacturing is important to America’s economic prosperity.
- Americans rank manufacturing as the third most important industry needed to maintain a strong economy.
- Many believe that the US manufacturing industry is high-tech, can compete globally, and will grow stronger in the long term.
- Yet, the public seems reluctant to choose manufacturing careers with 70% citing it was not a strong career path and only 50% believing a career in manufacturing provides good pay relative to other industries.
- And 1/3 of respondents would be reluctant to encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career. However those familiar with manufacturing are 2X more likely to encourage such a career for their kids.
To solve its talent shortage, the industry has some work to do to change public perceptions about the viability and attractiveness of a career in manufacturing. As the last point above highlights, building awareness is an important first step – people cannot be what they cannot see.
We wholeheartedly agree and as such a critical component of our app is focused on showing kids jobs firsthand. The manufacturing related jobs in our app include an engineer that works in a toy factory or a physics technician that manufactures metal parts or a product designer that works with plants overseas to produce backpacks. These visual insights help build career awareness among students and their adult advocates.
Do you know a kid who might thrive in a manufacturing job? If so, help them determine if such a job is a good fit for their interests and values by building their career awareness. Expose them to potential careers in the field via our app, industry websites, or even factory tours. The manufacturing industry will thank you for helping to fuel their talent pipeline!