Tim Herman, Flint & Genesee Chamber CEO Tim Herman, CEO

This year the United States will recognize National Manufacturing Day (NMD) on Oct. 2. The goal is to celebrate modern manufacturing and inspire the next generation of manufacturers.

Over the decades, the sector has changed significantly. Today’s advanced manufacturing is high tech, clean spaces with state-of-the-art equipment, and goes beyond the automotive industry to include plastics, energy, electronics, and food processing to name a few.

In recognition of NMD, the Flint & Genesee Chamber and higher education institutions will join local manufacturers to dispel the myths about the sector, raise awareness about career opportunities that are available in a variety of fields and shed light on the fact that there are not enough skilled workers for the open positions in manufacturing companies.

According to a skills gap report by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, 67 percent of manufacturers reported a shortage of qualified workers, and 56 percent anticipate that shortage to only increase in the next three to five years.

Other interesting statistics:

  • A majority of Americans (70 percent) view manufacturing among one of the most important domestic industries for maintaining a strong economy.
  • Only 37 percent of parents are encouraging their children to enter manufacturing.
  • However, those with high industry familiarity tend to have more favorable perceptions and are twice as likely as those with no familiarity to encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.
  • In addition, 82 percent of executives surveyed stated that the shortage of qualified workers will impact their ability to meet customer demand and 78 percent believe it will impact their ability to impact new technologies and increase productivity.

It’s time for the public perception to catch up with reality. Here are a few other stats to consider:

  • Jobs in manufacturing go beyond the factory floor.
  • Manufacturing brings new revenues into communities.
  • Manufacturing salaries are generally higher than salaries from other industries. Therefore, it generates more income and creates a positive ripple effect.
  • Manufacturers have some of the longest job tenure in the private sector.
  • Manufacturers perform more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development in the nation – driving more innovation than any other sector.

Changes in technology and globalization have reshaped how we view modern manufacturing jobs, as well as the strategies we should use to recruit and retain manufacturers in our communities.

To adapt to this changing environment, traditional approaches to developing a qualified workforce must also change to better meet the demands of manufacturing now and in the future.

On Oct. 2, approximately 80 students from seven high schools will tour 13 manufacturing firms and colleges in Flint & Genesee. I encourage use to follow the event coverage (#MFGDay15) on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.