If you want to know if Americans are taking notice of manufacturing these days, the success of the recent Manufacturing Day should be a good barometer.
In its third year, Manufacturing Day was celebrated on October 3, and it was the most successful year so far—in a major way. Over 1,500 events occurred throughout the country, in facilities and with businesses of all sizes.
The reasons for this important day were multiple. One, of course, was to bring attention to this critical, innovative industry, which supports over 17 million jobs while contributing over $2 trillion to our economy in 2013 alone.
The other, equally important mission is to address the skilled labor shortage that’s impacting our country’s manufacturers. According to the Manufacturing Institute’s 2011 Skills Gap Report, “67% of respondents report[ed] a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers and 56% anticipat[ed] the shortage to grow worse.” Since then, those numbers have, indeed, grown.In 2012, Deloitte published figures stating that 600,000 manufacturing jobs were unfilled—again, a number that will very likely increase.
Events such as Manufacturing Day bring attention to the exciting, high-tech, invaluable work being done by the industry, while showcasing the value of careers within it, and getting young people interested and excited. The hope, of course, is that the lessons they take home on Manufacturing Day carry over throughout the year.
The fact is, American manufacturing is back and it’s better than ever. Companies are reshoring, recognizing the true value in making goods domestically, and new companies are starting fresh here at home. Innovation is soaring, and American manufacturing workers are considered the most productive in the world.
Manufacturing is in the midst of a renaissance, but if we want it to stay this way, we must spread the message. We can do so by encouraging STEM education, getting our children and communities involved and excited about what we do, and actively showing the country just how critical, and how successful, American manufacturing is.