There have been and continue to be some challenges in the U.S. current manufacturing climate, but overall manufacturers remain optimistic about the future of the industry. In fact, despite ongoing problems with tariffs and trade issues, 80% of manufacturers were positive about the future of manufacturing in the most recent 2019 survey. At D+M Metal Products we believe that metal fabrication careers have a bright future, one that more students and current workers should consider when contemplating their work choices.
Manufacturing has a reputation from decades ago that does not match what it is today. It has evolved well beyond automobile assembly and offers different opportunities to workers of all ages today. Currently the manufacturing workforce is dominated by older workers, but we need qualified and trained younger people continue to evolve and meet the needs of our customers, the country, and the world. After all, fabricated products make the world go round.
There are differences between the generations in their ideas about work and careers. Sixty-four percent of Baby Boomers, when asked what their primary motivation was when they first began work, said that it was one of two things: making as much money as possible or learning new skills. Millennials are much more likely than older generations to say that their main concern is to do work they enjoy or that allows them to make a difference in society. As a result, many of them have gravitated to white collar work that requires a college degree. In fact, most of them have been steered in that direction. Unfortunately, the costs of higher education have increased greatly while the associated jobs have dwindled in number and pay.
Opportunity in Metal Fabrication Careers
In contrast, manufacturing has a shortage of workers. As of October of 2018, there were approximately 488,000 open manufacturing jobs in the United States. Many Millennials dismiss manufacturing jobs as dull or dead end, but the jobs of today are not the same as the jobs on the line in 1960 or 1970. Automation is now doing a great deal of the repetitive work with the skilled work being done by people. These jobs are challenging and engaging. They pay well, and they don’t require years of very expensive college courses as an entry point. For Millennials or Generation X workers, they offer a great chance to do necessary, interesting work and be paid well for it (without being saddled by tens of thousands of dollars in student debt or more).
For high school or community college students who are beginning to think about what comes next, many manufacturing companies, including ours, bring in students who have no experience in the industry and give them the training and opportunities they need to succeed. Many of our skilled techs and machine operators have learned on the job. We also invest in our workers, reimbursing them for further training or the education they get if it is learning a related skill or expanding their knowledge in a way that benefits our company.
The school year is just beginning, but learning never ends. If you are looking to enter an industry with enormous potential for growth and great opportunity, manufacturing – and metal fabrication in particular – is it. Come and talk to us at D+M Metal about what we do, how we invest in our workers, and the future of metal fabrication careers.