Manufacturing Day began in 2012 and, as participation in the event has grown, it has become “an annual celebration of modern manufacturing.” For many, it has shifted from a single day to encompass the entire month of October. The event encourages manufacturers to invite students and educators as well as politicians, members of the business community, and media to their facilities to educate the public about career opportunities and enhance public opinions.
Manufacturing Day in numbers
Since its start, Manufacturing Day has been a resounding success, growing from 240 participating facilities in 2012 to over 2,800 in 2016. In fact, in 2014, a presidential proclamation named the first Friday in October “National Manufacturing Day.” And by 2016, 147 local and state government officials recognized Manufacturing Day. The 2016 celebration involved over 595,000 participants with over 260,000 students included.
Student participant surveys showed nearly 90% left the events “more aware of manufacturing jobs” available nearby. The increased belief that careers in the manufacturing industry are both rewarding and satisfying led 64% of the participants to state they were “more motivated to pursue careers in manufacturing.” This means that over 200,000 students left last year’s Manufacturing Day celebrations with new outlooks on and positive perceptions of the industry.
The importance of early industry exposure
And new outlooks could be of vital importance as those students begin to enter the workforce. According to a report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, 2.7 million baby boomers are expected to retire by 2025. That could leave a projected shortage of two million skilled manufacturing employees, putting more pressure on manufacturers to secure the next generation of professionals.
In addition to these future manufacturers, women make up a significantly under-represented pool of potential workers. And while more women are choosing to enter the field, they made up only 29% of manufacturing employees in 2016. Early engagement, however, can help ensure candidates are available with the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills needed to succeed in today’s manufacturing environment, and exposing available opportunities can also help attract qualified women to the profession.
“Meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers,” Manufacturing Day is changing the way the public views the industry and demonstrating how vital manufacturers are to their communities. The day — even the month — helps to empower manufacturers by educating the public about manufacturing careers and the opportunities they offer, creating awareness of the advanced technologies propelling the industry.