On October 6th, ITW Heartland and Spiroid participated in the ‘Dream It. Do It.’ statewide tour of manufacturing. This initiative, conceived and sponsored by the Manufacturing Institute, is designed to increase awareness of the high paying, high quality career opportunities available in Manufacturing.

To understand why Heartland and Spiroid participated – and why we’re calling attention to it again in this blog post – one only needs to peek at the data:

The Facts

  • % of US workers employed by Manufacturing sector:  8.27%
  • % of MN workers employed by Manufacturing sector:  10.92%
  • % of Alexandria, MN workers employed by Manufacturing sector:  18.00%

The Increasing Demand*

  • # of new jobs anticipated in U.S. Manufacturing by 2025: 700,000
  • # of U.S. Manufacturing jobs to be vacated by retiring Baby Boomers by 2025:  2.7 million
  • # of U.S. Manufacturing jobs likely to be filled by 2025:  1.4 million
  • # of U.S. Manufacturing jobs likely to remain unfilled by 2025:  2.0 million

The Perception & The Skills*

  • % of Americans who believe Manufacturing jobs are interesting and rewarding:  50.00%
  • % of Parents in America who would encourage their children to pursue a Manufacturing career:  33.00%
  • % of Parents in America who believe Manufacturing sector has limited career prospects: 45.00%
  • % of Americans who believe school systems provide exposure to Manufacturing skills:  53.00%
  • % of Americans who believe school systems encourage students to pursue Manufacturing:  30.00%

What does all of this data mean?

From a macro-perspective, it means the prospects are high for a renaissance in one of our country’s most important sectors. This is highlighted by the fact that over 700,000 manufacturing jobs have been added since 2010, with another 700,000 anticipated by 2025. For prospective employees, this renaissance is made even more enticing by the retirement of America’s Baby Boomer generation, creating an additional 2.7 million vacancies. But for all this hope of a renaissance in Manufacturing, it will be difficult to capitalize unless we can collectively overcome the negative public perceptions built through the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. It was during this period that manufacturing began to exit the US, leaving in its wake run-down factories, laid-off workers, and countless products ‘Made In’ everywhere but America. It’s no wonder that half of our country fails to see manufacturing careers as ‘interesting’ or ‘rewarding.’ Or that almost three-quarters of American parents fail to encourage Manufacturing as a viable career. Or that so few perceive our school systems as an ally of Manufacturing. Yet we at Spiroid and Heartland agree with the Manufacturing Institute that perception, in this case, is not reality.

At the local level, we can help shed 30 years of negative perceptions by showing that our factories aren’t dark, dirty or greasy. We can show how we’ve used automation to replace the ‘unskilled’ or ‘semiskilled’ labor of yesteryear, and that we need highly skilled folks to design, build and maintain that automation. We can provide a first-hand account of what ‘Advanced Manufacturing’ looks and feels like. We can take credit for the countless ‘cool’ products our products enable: missiles, exoskeleton suits, surgical instruments, submarines, battle ships, passenger trains, fighter jets, attack helicopters… the list of fun and exciting things we’re a part of is long and eye-raising and we need to acknowledge it more often so our local schools and youth can get excited with us.

Last, but not least, we can continue talking about it like we are right here. This is an ongoing dialogue requiring a multitude of actors and voices. If you’re a part of the Manufacturing Industry, and if your success depends, like ours, on showing kids & schools how fun and interesting this industry can be, join the discussion. Get involved.

*Data source: Deloitte. & Manufacturing Institute survey conducted August, 2014. Survey statistics are depicted below in 2 separate Infographics, “Public Perception” and “Skills Gap”.