With the increase in manufacturing jobs, companies are looking at a new source of workers: young people, including young women.
Jobs in manufacturing today are more attractive than ever, because they’re no longer considered dirty and dangerous. “Many potential workers don’t want to go near it because they think it’s dirty work,” writes Mark Garrison for Marketplace. But today, much of the work is performed by robots, he says, encouraging companies to open their facilities to young people so they can see what it’s like. In fact, today’s manufacturing jobs are high-tech, high-skilled — and high-paying, writes USA Today, noting that the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $77,505 in 2012, including pay and benefits.
Young people are particularly needed in industries where workers are retiring. The oil and gas industry is adding jobs for welders (where currently the average age of a worker is 55), machinists, and other people who work with metal. In Wisconsin alone, it’s estimated that as many as 700,000 manufacturing jobs will be left vacant due to retirements, USA Today writes.
In an attempt to deal with the problem of finding new workers in manufacturing, a number of community colleges are offering classes intended to train people in manufacturing jobs in a short time without having to spend a lot of money. In addition, companies such as Alcoa and Michelin are offering programs to high schoolers and even to middle schoolers to show them what manufacturing is like to make it more appealing to them. Other programs are aimed at young women in particular, such as the Girls Learning About Manufacturing (GLAM) program in the Tri Cities in Washington.
Other industries are setting up apprenticeships, and President Barack Obama’s administration has announced $100 million in federal grants to fund creation and expansion of manufacturing apprenticeship programs. Apprentices at one electric company in Florida earn $32 an hour, and full-time workers can earn up to $70,000 per year.
We hear time and again from our small business manufacturing and wholesaler customers: finding skilled labor is one of the biggest challenges. However, there is another side of the coin. If a new generation is going to be developed to take over the blooming manufacturing industry, companies need to do what they can to make themselves look more attractive to the young. The bottom line is that the manufacturing industry is a very attractive, exciting and potentially lucrative space to be in – we just have to spread the word!
Steve Leavitt, GM of U.S. Cloud Solutions for Exact