There has been a lot of recent attention paid to the skills gap facing American manufacturers. We all know that many young people tend to shy away from STEM education, and they (as well as parents, unfortunately) still have a distorted, grimy, perception of manufacturing careers.
This fact is highlighted in NAM manufacturing video from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The young people featured in this short film are obviously pretty bright but are not knowledgeable about manufacturing or technical careers. Some of the statistics that are cited in this video are quite interesting. Over 18 million people are employed in manufacturing and on average the compensation for these careers exceeds $77,000. So while the jobs are there, and they pay well, young people show little if any interest. According to NAM, 18-24 years olds rank manufacturing 5 out of 7 for career preferences. However, more than 80% believe manufacturing is important to our economy and standard of living.
Many companies (including The Rodon Group) are addressing this gap by working with local educators and school administrators to support and encourage STEM education. Some organizations partner with workforce development agencies to identify and groom future manufacturing candidates. Still others are using the “old” model of apprenticeships to grow their talent internally.
The good news is that the problem is gaining attention, including in the mainstream media and reaching the masses, helping to bring about the much needed action and change.
Let’s have a look at some of the recent articles, blog posts, ideas and strategies from leading industrial and manufacturing sources. Their thoughts on the problem are varied, but the one thing that they all have in common is recognizing that change needs to happen now in order to secure the future of manufacturing in this country.
Let us know your thoughts on the topic in the comments section below.
NIST/MEP: How to Attract Millennials and Preserve the Future of Manufacturing
“Millennials. If you Google the term, you get 3,190,000 results! There has been a lot of discussion and analysis about this group, which includes people born roughly between the early 1980s to the early 2000s, according to Wikipedia. Many have said, with the current and upcoming workforce skills shortage, that the future of manufacturing hinges on this generation. There is no more accurate statement.”
ThomasNet: Millennials in Manufacturing: How Can We Make it Happen?
"Over the last few years, I’ve noticed an entirely different connotation in working with the manufacturing industry. In fact, you’ve most likely heard or said something along these lines yourself: The next-generation needs to get interested in STEM careers. With news outlets pushing out blogs and op-eds about nervous hiring managers scrounging around for talent, it’s no surprise there’s plenty of chatter on these Millennials and how they can change everything."
Cerasis: Attracting Millennials to Manufacturing & How Young People Are Going to Save Manufacturing
“Let’s face it — manufacturing probably is not viewed as a glamorous job by today’s youth. While jobs in mobile, computing, gaming and healthcare continue to see a glut in the market, manufacturing companies struggle to find skilled machine operators and future leaders. This is a huge problem that can lead to a stagnant era in manufacturing, just as the industry is poised for a big comeback here in the United States. So what do we do to help college students and young workers get interested in jobs within the manufacturing realm?”
Design News: The Gaping Skills Gap in Advanced Manufacturing
“The skills-gap problem is accelerating with the retirement of Baby-Boomer engineers who are reaching retirement age. They’re taking their accumulated technical expertise out the door when they leave. “The knowledge is in the head of our senior engineer, and they’ve soon to retire,” said Loren. “The skills and tribal knowledge is going out the door and we have to have those skills coming in.”
7 Best Ways to Manage Millennials
“Millennials may be the most misunderstood generation ever, even though they’re also among the most studied. But managers who get to know members of the group well quickly realize the stereotypes (Millennials are self-absorbed, unfocused, etc.) are false. However, Millennials do tend to have values and preferences that are distinct from predecessor groups.”
Mfg Talk Radio: 3 Ways to Attract Millennials to Manufacturing
“Millennials are an interesting generation. They are the first people to be raised where the internet is the norm and communication is instantaneous. More importantly for manufacturers, these tech-savvy individuals will make up an estimated 50% of the workforce by 2020. This is the main reason it’s so important to understand what this generation is looking for in a career. The manufacturing industry is in the midst of a devastating skills gap and manufacturers are looking for millennials to help fill the gap. Here are 3 of the best ways manufacturers can create an environment that will be more attractive to this new millennial workforce.”
Manufacturing.net: How Millennials Can Help Manufacturers Adapt To Change
“Research from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte predicts there could be as many as 2 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2025, up from initial estimates of 600,000. Add to those statistics a whopping 77 million Millennials coming into the labor force (roughly one-fourth of the U.S. population), and what do you get? An opportunity to revitalize the manufacturing sector, with a renewed emphasis on technology, innovation, and digitization, many of the areas that attract the younger generation of workers.”