The first Friday in October is Manufacturing Day, and it’s a celebration of modern manufacturing, highlighting what is great in the industry today in an effort to educate students, workers, the business community, the media, and politicians about how essential manufacturing is to the economy. This year that day, the sixth annual Manufacturing Day, is October 6, 2017.
On this day many manufacturers open their doors to the public, offering plant tours so that people can understand what exactly it is they do and how our everyday lives depend on the parts and products made in factories locally, nationally, and worldwide. Manufacturing has changed a great deal since Henry Ford began rolling Model Ts off of his assembly lines, and it’s responsible for bringing jobs back to America today. While robots and AGVs are becoming a part of nearly every factory floor, there are still jobs that need filling for workers of every level of education.
In American 12 million people are employed in manufacturing, and the industry supports 17.4 million jobs nationwide. By the year 2018 STEM manufacturing jobs are predicted to grow to 8.65 million. Unfortunately, workers in the Baby-Boomer and Generation-X generations make up 80% of those employed currently. Millennials and even younger people need to know about the opportunities manufacturing offers in terms of employment and opportunity. This is why Manufacturing Day is so important.
A healthy manufacturing sector creates jobs well beyond its own sphere, many of them skilled. Researchers’ and scientists’ work both depends on and influences manufacturing. Computer programming and software development jobs are created by the industry. Manufacturing also needs engineers, production workers, and technicians who can fix machines when they break down, and because all of these jobs are necessary to produce the products of the future, wages and benefits tend to be generous for those positions.
The State of Michigan has a program that is designed to help fill those positions in the future. The Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF) has been providing funding for training and currently is giving $27 million in grants to companies that help their workers gain more skilled training. This money can be used both for current employees or new hires. Companies need only contact their Michigan Works! business liaison and apply for these grants. They have until October 6, 2017 to get their applications in.
Manufacturers need to be proactive and think outside of the box to find and train the workers they need both for today and tomorrow. What is your company doing to celebrate Manufacturing Day this year?