How can manufacturers effectively reach young people and recruit them to the industry? This is a challenge the Manufacturing Institute has been working to address through Manufacturing Day, held annually on the first Friday in October.
“The Manufacturing Day initiative was built to help solve the workforce development crisis in the manufacturing industry by increasing awareness and shifting misperceptions,” says Julia Asoni, senior director, student engagement, Manufacturing Institute. “During Manufacturing Day, hundreds to thousands of manufacturing companies open their doors to host students, parents, teachers, community leaders, into facilities to give them an inside look into our industry. It really has a tremendous impact.”
In July, the Manufacturing Institute hosted a webinar providing tips for manufacturers to most effectively communicate with young people by presenting manufacturing as a sustainable, exciting and rewarding career path.
Communication tips for manufacturers
1. Present the range of possibilities
“Manufacturing can be [a] great fit for people interested in cars or medicine or design or technology. It is also great for people who work in teams, for people who want to work indoors or outdoors, for people who want an advanced degree or for those who want to work right out of high school,” says Asoni. “It’s really important to focus on the spectrum of opportunities in the industry and at your organization.”
2. Show career pathways
Students often have a disconnect between their future goals and the pathways they could take to reach those goals, says Asoni. When speaking with young people, “show them the end goal—the interesting careers, the cool thing they get to do—and the steps to get there,” she says. “This is where you can have a representative from your company tell their own personal stories.”
3. Talk dollars and cents
“We get a great deal of persuasive value when we talk about the average salary in manufacturing,” says Chrys Kefalas, vice president of brand strategy, National Association of Manufacturers. “We’ve seen numbers around $29 an hour. Obviously this varies by location, company. But what you’re doing is emphasizing that careers in manufacturing are rewarding paths for good, sustainable well-paying job[s]. They are proof points that sell the value of a manufacturing career.”
4. Connect to technology
“There is great interest in pursuing careers that require the use of technology,” Kefalas says. “Manufacturers use high-tech equipment, high-tech technologies. The latest innovations and breakthroughs are being applied in our facilities every day. Making sure that we show that off and showcase that and tell that story is really important.”
5. Discuss big, global interventions
“[Young people] question things more and think about what’s happening in the world—the major challenges facing society,” Asoni says. “Adding that context to your presentation [is important.] For example, what happens if we don’t make the product we’re showing you? What challenges is your company helping to resolve?”
For more information on Manufacturing Day and for additional resources on communicating with the next generation of workers, visit CreatorsWanted.org/MFGday.