Manufacturing Industry Perception

July 27, 2017 4:24 pm
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posted within Workforce Development

Perception is everything

Is the Manufacturing Industry Unstable?


In December 2016, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute conducted a study on the Public Perception of the Manufacturing Industry.  In this study, one-third of Americans stated that they would not encourage their children to pursue a career in manufacturing because they are worried about the security and stability of the industry.  Seventy percent of those surveyed think manufacturing is not a strong career path.  Less than half think manufacturing jobs are interesting, rewarding, clean, safe, stable and secure.  And, sixty-four percent said manufacturing does not pay enough.

What do you think of these results?  Are you surprised?

If you are involved in manufacturing, you probably have a different perception.  But, that is the problem…isn’t it?

This perception, however inaccurate it might be, is the main reason that so many manufacturers are struggling to find good, qualified employees.  What the public has been led to believe about manufacturing has resulted in the workforce struggle we are now in.  If this is what the public thinks, then no wonder high school students are not interested in programs and degrees in manufacturing related fields.

The good news is, the overall perception of manufacturing seems to be improving.  The study found many positive views for the future of manufacturing. When asked about the future, eighty-three percent stated that they believe that manufacturing is important to America’s economic prosperity.  Forty-one percent now believe that the industry will continue to grow.  This is up from twenty-nine percent just two years prior.  The challenge that we have, is to continue changing the public’s perception of manufacturing for the better.


Five Ways You Can Help Change Manufacturing’s Perception:


Think Long Term

While it is important to fill short term workforce needs, it is equally important to focus on the long term.  The manufacturing workforce shortage is expected to continue to be the primary challenge for the foreseeable future.  Those who focus only on filling their needs today, are going to continue to struggle for years to come. In fact, the prediction is that the next ten years are going to be rough.  The baby boomers are expected to retire, resulting in many senior positions left vacant.  Take a look at what your workforce needs will be next year, in five years and even ten years from now and develop a strategy that will address each of these needs.


Get Involved

We need manufacturers working together to overcome this issue.  One manufacturer cannot fix the problem.  Start by helping to educate the teachers, school guidance counselors, parents and students about the opportunities you see in manufacturing.  Volunteer or help to support your regional manufacturing association, such as the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association.  These groups advocate for manufacturers with everyone from elected officials to the local schools.  They provide educational information and help to coordinate educational events, all to promote manufacturing throughout your region.


Let Them See

Seeing is believing, as they say.  The study showed that the respondents who were familiar with manufacturing were twice as likely to encourage their kids to pursue a career in manufacturing.  How can we get more companies to open their doors and let people see what it is really like inside of a manufacturing facility?  If they could see what we see, it would make a big impact on the public’s perception.  Today’s manufacturing jobs often use cutting edge technologies but, the public does not know this because they are not exposed to it.  Some of the public still has a view of manufacturing from the 1950’s.  Many people would be surprised to know that the jobs now require technical knowledge and problem solving.

Manufacturing Day is such an important event to be a part of.  It’s a national event where manufacturers across the nation open their doors to showcase manufacturing and what it really looks like.  You can participate by hosting tours for a class (or classes) from local schools, invite a local official or public figure,  or have a private (by invitation only) event.  This year we will celebrate Manufacturing Day on October 6, 2017.  Participating in manufacturing day helps to promote your company throughout your community, your region, and nationally.  Be sure to register your event here: Manufacturing Day website.


Share The Benefits

Many students and parents choose a job or career based on income.  According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the average Ohio manufacturing worker earned $72,534 per year in 2015.  We should all help to promote this fact in order to attract more students to the industry.  Employers should note that the number one thing the survey respondents said they want when choosing a career path is good benefits. Eighty-seven percent listed health care, time off, and retirement as their most important benefit criteria.  Another really good idea that I heard recently, is adding a benefit to help pay off student debt for your employees.  Thinking outside the box to attract the high quality employees, I like it.


Offer In-House Training

On the job training is another good way to get good employees in the door. Maybe they could not afford to attend a technical school or college but, they have a certain skill set and a desire to learn.  Training people into a job that they like will benefit both the employer and the new hire.  In-house training also creates loyalty in the trainee, which further benefits the employer by creating a long-term dedicated employee.


What are you doing to change the perception of manufacturing?