Celebrating Manufacturing Day: An Industry Full of Opportunity

Production line worker in factory
How much do you know about the American manufacturing industry? How about careers in manufacturing? If you’re like many, your knowledge of these topics may be a little outdated. On October 7, National Manufacturing Day and related events across the country will educate the American public and prospective manufacturing professionals about the many opportunities offered by this diverse, lucrative and critically important field. Don’t have time to make it to a Manufacturing Day event? No worries. We’ve compiled a list of five significant employment trends in today’s manufacturing industry. Read on to see if a career in this booming field is for you.

Manufacturing’s global (and local) impact

According to engineering firm, Siemens, “Manufacturing is at the heart of a strong economy.” In fact, Siemens reports, “Manufacturing provides 17 percent of global GDP…is responsible for 70 percent of global trade … and has a 77 percent share of global research and development.”

More food for thought – every US dollar spent in manufacturing generates 1.4 US dollars in other branches of our economy, and every one job created in manufacturing creates 2.2 jobs in other sectors.

Multiple sources including the Brookings Institution, Industry Week and Assembly Magazine, all point to the fact that manufacturing is critical to our country’s national security, economy, pace of innovation and standing as a global superpower.

Manufacturing jobs have changed

A recent survey by SME found that parents are unlikely to recommend careers in the manufacturing industry to their children. What they don’t understand is that today’s manufacturing industry is not their parents’ or grandparents’ manufacturing industry.

“Half of all respondents do not see manufacturing as an exciting, challenging or engaging profession,” says SME CEO, Jeffrey Krauss. “Yet, respondents’ perceptions of the industry are outdated,” says Krauss. “Manufacturing today is an advanced, high-value industry that represents innovation and technology … we need to show that manufacturing careers can be exciting, stimulating and very rewarding.”

“Manufacturing offers career opportunities for every education level ranging from skilled trades that require a high school diploma or GED to engineers, designers and programmers with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and researchers and scientists with PhDs.”

Manufacturing jobsites have changed

What do you imagine when you think of manufacturing jobs? Do you picture a highly industrial environment with dangerous machinery and assembly lines staffed with bored employees? “In actuality, manufacturing jobs and jobsites aren’t like that at all,” says Krauss. “Many of today’s manufacturing environments look more like clean rooms, with laboratory-like settings.” Likewise, technological advances have removed many of the safety risks once associated with manufacturing jobs.

Those with necessary skill-sets are much in demand.

Today’s manufacturing industry is experiencing an alarming workforce shortage. According to GE, “The industry’s Manufacturing Institute predicts that as many as 2 million future jobs could go unfilled from the lack of workers with the right technology, computer and technical skills.”

But for those with the requisite skills, the future looks bright: According to data from Aerotek partner, EMSI, the most in-demand jobs in 2016-2017 are general production workers, light industrial assembly workers, machine operators, maintenance technicians, mechanics and welders.

Manufacturing careers make good financial sense.

With the ever-increasing cost of college tuition, training in advanced manufacturing skills can typically be obtained in two years or less at community colleges or vocational schools, making this a very economic decision. Salaries in today’s manufacturing field are promising, with the average U.S. manufacturing worker earning $77,506.

Hopefully we’ve dispelled some misconceptions about manufacturing and opened your eyes to the true opportunity provided by this important industry.

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