The U.S. manufacturing sector is making a comeback and helping lead the country back to economic prosperity. A recent report shows that U.S. manufacturers are regaining their competitive edge, with more and more companies “reshoring” production from overseas back home to the U.S. Boston Consulting Group recently predicted that more than 2.5 million manufacturing jobs could be added in the U.S. in the next seven years.
However, our sector is fully aware that to sustain this comeback, manufacturers need to ensure that the industry addresses the severe skilled labor shortage we’re facing today. With a stubborn national unemployment rate still hovering over seven percent, there should be an overflow of resumes for jobs that pay good wages and offer good benefits. Instead, there are tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs today going unfilled today because companies cannot find workers with the necessary skills. The Manufacturing Institute reports that almost 80 percent of U.S. manufacturers are having trouble filling open positions.
The shortage is being caused by a perception that manufacturing jobs are “dead end” jobs because the sector is shrinking, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. American manufacturing companies today employ 12 million men and women and the U.S. remains the world’s largest manufacturing economy. Manufacturers understand that to attract young workers to our sector, we need to do a better job of promoting manufacturing careers and change the public’s perception of manufacturing.
That’s what Manufacturing Day, which will be celebrated nationally on October 4, is all about.
For years, the industry has not told the story of modern manufacturing very effectively. If you visit a manufacturing facility in U.S. today, you will quickly learn that it is not the same type of operation of generations past. Manufacturing has gone high tech, with modern, clean facilities, computers, robots, and automation. Manufacturers need highly skilled and technologically competent specialists, as the jobs require math, science and technical skills. These jobs are highly competitive, offering on average much higher starting salaries and better benefits than those offered in the service sector. According to a 2011 Bureau of Economic Analysis survey, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $77,060 annually, including pay and benefits. The average worker in all industries earned $60,168.
Manufacturing Day is an effort by manufacturers to connect with future generations about careers in manufacturing, to amplify the voice of individual manufacturers and empower them to come together to address our collective challenges so that we can help our communities and future generations thrive. The day is co-produced by Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST), Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), and the Manufacturing Institute (MI) and we have the support of 15 sponsors. More than 110 manufacturing organizations have endorsed the event.
On Manufacturing Day, manufacturers connect with their local communities, by offering plant tours, career workshops and other events that take place at facilities across the U.S. Shell, a gold sponsor of the event, is even conducting a sweepstakes in honor of Manufacturing Day where the winner will receive a trip to a 2014 Sprint Cup Series Race of their choice.
As many of us in the industry are aware, there is an abundance of promising career opportunities available in manufacturing today. Manufacturing Day will be the ‘coming out party’ for many U.S. manufacturers all across the nation. Manufacturers will open their doors to their local school kids, community college students, media and job seekers so that they can see firsthand the safe, high-tech and innovative work environments that await the best and brightest who pursue careers in manufacturing.
Keep an eye out for more news about Manufacturing Day and consider getting involved – it’s important to your company and to our industry!