By Paula Hynes, Communications Coordinator, The Rodon Group
Every week, there is a news story about the lack of skilled workers to fill employment opportunities in the manufacturing sector. How did we get to this point? Many that could fill these spots went off to college and spent four years and thousands of dollars to gain the credentials needed to land a well-paying job. Unfortunately, the outcome often didn’t meet the expectation.
According to a recent study by Career Builder, nearly one-third of college graduates are not employed in their field of study. And, 47% said their first job after graduation was not related to their major. Many graduates find out too late that either their specialty is not in demand, or they need an advanced degree to get a job. This trend leaves many job seekers with degrees that go underutilized.
Professional, skilled trade opportunities
However, there is still a great deal of employment opportunity. A recent USA Today analysis of data from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. and CareerBuilder estimates that by 2017, nearly 2.5 new skilled jobs will be added to the economy. These jobs are described as “middle-skilled” opportunities. They require technical training, but not a four-year degree. These are well-paid jobs that offer long-term stability.
This resurgence in our manufacturing sector employment along with the rising cost of a college education has gotten the attention of public school administrators, trade groups, and government agencies. The need for workers with professional trade skills has begun to shift the career paradigm. Students as well as parents are the focus of outreach programs that help engage and inform the public about manufacturing opportunities.
Focusing on tomorrow’s manufacturing workers
In 2012, a group of industry associations in collaboration with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership worked to develop a game plan for getting the word out about manufacturing careers. The Fabricator & Manufacturers Association International®, National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute, felt one of the best ways to get kids excited about manufacturing was to show them manufacturing in action. So, they put together a plan and a website to enlist manufacturers to open the doors of their facilities for tours, seminars, and other educational activities. They called the event Manufacturing. The stated goals of the event are: promoting manufacturers and skilled employment, expanding industry knowledge, and connecting with families, educators, associations & media for the betterment of manufacturing.
The Rodon Group was one of the first companies to sign-up. One of our corporate mandates is to support and promote American manufacturing. As a member of American Made Matters, a consortium of U.S. manufacturing companies, we wanted to be on the forefront of this movement. And, we hoped a nationwide day promoting manufacturing would generate excitement. Let’s face it, manufacturing has gotten a great deal of bad press in the past. Many still think of old grimy sweatshops as the norm. By opening our doors to students, teachers, faculty and the community we had the opportunity to challenge these perceptions first hand. Most manufacturing companies today are bright, clean working environments that rely on automation and technology to run most of the operations. The jobs in these companies are far from the manual labor of the past. They require skilled professionals to operate the factory infrastructure.
Manufacturing Day is making a difference.
In 2012, when Manufacturing Day began, there were a little over 200 companies participating throughout the country. In 2013, that number grew to 830. And by 2014, there were nearly 1,700 participating companies. This exponential growth was a result of lots of attention and interest in American manufacturing and the skills gap that exists in our workforce. By engaging local communities, companies can show students and parents the opportunities available in the high-tech manufacturing factory of today. In fact, Rodon has hired a few of these students.. And we often have technical school students working as paid interns during their summer hiatus from the classroom. These students had either attended a Manufacturing Day event or participated in one of the school tours we give throughout the year.
We have also created a lot of media exposure for the company through promoting these events. Last year, we hosted several high-ranking administrators from the Commerce Department as well as local legislators. In 2012, several weeks after our Manufacturing Day event, we hosted President Obama, who was promoting fiscal policies. Certainly, the added exposure we have received over the years has helped increase our brand recognition as a leading U.S. plastic injection molder.
Making things is cool
It’s clear that making things in the U.S. is cool again. Consumers, legislators and businesses all realize the important role manufacturing plays in our economy.
Here are some interesting highlights from the National Association of Manufacturers “Facts About Manufacturing”:
- The most recent statistics reveal manufacturers contributed $2.09 trillion to the economy, up from $2.03 trillion in 2012. This was 12.0 percent of GDP.1 For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.37 is added to the economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.2
- Manufacturing supports an estimated 17.6 million jobs in the United States—about one in six private-sector jobs. More than 12 million Americans (or 9 percent of the workforce) are employed directly in manufacturing.3
- In 2013, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $77,506 annually, including pay and benefits. The average worker in all industries earned $62,546.4
- Manufacturers in the United States are the most productive in the world, far surpassing the worker productivity of any other major manufacturing economy, leading to higher wages and living standards.5
- Manufacturers in the United States perform more than three-quarters of all private-sector R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector.6
- Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the 9th largest economy in the world.7
(See sources below)
Mark your calendars
Manufacturing Day is always held on the first Friday in October. This year the event falls on October 2, 2015. Of course, The Rodon Group has already signed up, and we encourage all manufacturing companies to join us in this national event (link to MFG Day). SPI, the Plastics Industry Trade Association, is a sponsor of MFG Day this year and is helping to promote other plastic processors like Rodon to get involved in the event. Let’s work together to change the perceptions about manufacturing careers and promote our U.S. made products.
Watch this video to learn more. Follow MFG Day on Twitter @MFGDay and #MFGDay15
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Sources for National Association of Manufacturers “Facts about Manufacturing”:
1 Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Economic Accounts (2014).
2 Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Input-Output Tables (2013).
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), with estimate of total employment supported by manufacturing calculated by NAM using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (2013, 2014).
4 Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Economic Accounts by Industry (2013).
5 NAM calculations based on data from the United Nations, Bureau of Labor Statistics and the International Labour Organization.
6 Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Economic Accounts by Industry (2013).
7 Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Economic Accounts (2014) and International Monetary Fund (2013).
- See more at: http://www.nam.org/Newsroom/Facts-About-Manufacturing/#sthash.7Xk5P503.dpuf