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Manufacturers Need to Show Job Prospects They Have a Lot to Offer

One of the biggest concerns of manufacturing CEOs is to have enough talent on hand to take advantage of growing business opportunities as the U.S. economy continues to recover. That means they need to do a better job of attracting the admittedly thin ranks of experienced and capable workers who are available.

The challenge is to persuade them that manufacturing “is not the dark, dirty and dangerous place that folks think it is,” Joe Trauger, vice president of human resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, told The Wall Street Journal.

In fact, only 35 percent of parents say they would encourage their children to pursue careers in manufacturing, despite the advanced skills and high pay characteristic of work in today’s advanced manufacturing industry, according to the Manufacturing Institute. “This is due to a perception of manufacturing that existed a generation ago but does not represent the current reality of the industry, said the Washington, D.C.-based trade group.

“Some companies are good at reinvesting in employees, but it’s about helping them become better employees.”

To that end, the Institute has a program—“Dream It. Do It.”—that helps young people find local programs that can help them explore career opportunities. Launched a decade ago, the program offers local manufacturers, schools, community-based organizations and other stakeholders the opportunity to promote manufacturing to three distinct target markets: parents, students and educators.

Manufacturing CEOs have a lot to offer the ranks of Generations Y and Z, many of whom have concluded that a four-year college education doesn’t offer nearly the ticket to financial prosperity that it once may have. Thanks to slow economic growth and automation, manufacturing jobs per se aren’t expected to rise out of proportion to others, but the ones that are going begging can be extremely attractive, offering pay far above jobs in retailing, food service and other service sectors.

For example, in the aircraft industry, which employs more than 40,000 people, the national annual median wage is more than $48,000. But in metro areas with the 90 percent highest wages in the business—Philadelphia, northern New Jersey and southern California—wages are $80,000 and above. And fully 93 percent of these workers have attained educational levels no higher than an associate’s degree, with about half of that number possessing only a high-school diploma or equivalent.

So if manufacturing CEOs can get potential qualified employees to take a look at them, typically they’ve got a lot to offer. Getting them to do so requires better marketing.


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