Manufacturing Day (“Mfg Day”) is held each year on the first Friday in October, but events associated with Mfg Day continue throughout the month. The purpose of these events is for educational institutions and companies to showcase modern manufacturing careers to students, parents, teachers, and community leaders. Experts predict that there will be 4.6 million new high-skill, high-tech jobs in the next 10 years, and Manufacturing Day is a great excuse for manufacturers to join together to encourage and inform students and adult learners to consider careers in the field to address the job market demand and highlight the benefits to communities of having qualified workers to meet the demand.
This year’s event will be different from previous years’. The Manufacturing Institute announced that, in response to COVID-19, the October events will include digital and virtual events throughout the country. Actually, this event format will highlight the connection between manufacturing and the strides companies are making to address the challenges of the pandemic.
Students thinking about, and planning a career, as well as adults seeking a change of career should give serious consideration to virtual attendance at some of the events for a few reasons. First, there is a shortage of high-tech workers in the U.S. due to the declining number of foreign-born workers who, in recent years, have staffed 20-25% of the American STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce. The decline of 17% among this cohort, according to the American Immigration Council, is due to changes in immigration regulations and a slow-down in employer H-1B visa sponsorship for foreign workers. Companies looking for STEM talent have to rely on domestic talent, which provides a far smaller pool of qualified workers. Second is the impending retirement of 27% of STEM workers in the next decade. Second, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that many companies lack sufficient succession planning and knowledge transfer strategies to address the issue.
Third is a lack of interest in STEM education. The number of teen-aged boys interested in a STEM education dropped from 36% in 2018 to 24% in 2019. The interest level of teen-aged girls remained stagnant at 11%. Though the number of female college graduates in STEM programs has increased to 24% in that period, males continue to vastly outnumber female graduates in the STEM workforce, which is 71% male. Parental influence is another contributing factor. Only three in ten parents advise their children to consider STEM careers, possibly because of an unfavorable perception of the industry. In fact, a recent survey found that less than half of respondents believe that manufacturing jobs are interesting, rewarding, clean, safe, stable, and secure. Other studies show that girls need more role models. They are more interested in hands-on experience, and want to see the “life applications” of what they are learning.
There has not been a better time for people to think about this in-demand and lucrative career alternative. And, there has never been a greater need for educational institutions and companies to become involved in initiatives like Mfg Day. Those interested in participating in the virtual events or sponsoring a virtual event for Mfg Day should click here.