Manufacturing Day 2017: Closing the Skills Gap

welding in a factory

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“Growing a talented workforce helps ensure manufacturing will continue to be the bedrock of our economy and competitiveness.” –Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers

Imagine what a day without a computer or a cell phone or even a car would be like. No emails or Facebook to check. No way to call friends and loved ones. Not even a way to get to school or work. It would be pretty rough, right?

Thanks to welding and other manufacturing processes, we enjoy these and hundreds of other conveniences. 1 Manufacturing adds jobs and dollars to the overall U.S. economy and raises our standard of living. Unfortunately, manufacturing is facing a huge problem: a skills gap. The solution is training more workers for skilled trades jobs and it starts with spreading awareness about the significance of these careers on Manufacturing Day. 2

What Is Manufacturing Day?

Americans say they know how important manufacturing is to the country, yet many are choosing careers in other sectors for their children and themselves. Only 37 percent of respondents in a 2015 study reported they would “encourage their children to pursue manufacturing careers.” However, respondents who were familiar with the manufacturing industry were TWICE as likely as those who weren’t to recommend careers in it to their kids. These findings signaled to manufacturers that they needed to educate the public about the importance and benefits of manufacturing jobs to help close the skills gap. 3

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In 2012, the manufacturing industry, the government, schools, and communities across the nation teamed up to create Manufacturing Day. On the first Friday of each October, manufacturers open their doors to students, educators, politicians, businesspeople, and the media to teach them about the role that industry plays in the U.S. It’s a day to put the marvels of modern manufacturing on display, to dispel myths that manufacturing jobs are filled with repetitive and unskilled tasks, and, most of all, to inspire the next generation of men and women to join the ranks of skilled tradespeople who make this country such a great place to live. 4

How to Close the Skills Gap?

The U.S. manufacturing industry will need 3.4 million skilled workers in the next ten years: about 2.7 million people will retire from the manufacturing workforce and firms will add an additional 700,000 jobs. With manufacturing firms reporting that 60 percent of their positions are going unfilled due to a lack of talent, it’s estimated the industry will face a shortage of 2 million workers. 5

Spreading awareness about opportunities in the manufacturing industry through Manufacturing Day has proven to be a remedy to the skills gap. A Deloitte survey found that 81 percent of student attendees of Manufacturing Day events left ‘more convinced that manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding.’ This number grew to 84 percent in 2016. Perhaps more importantly, 64 percent of students reported that they were more likely to consider a career in manufacturing for themselves. Not only that, but 71 percent of students said they were telling family, friends, and colleagues about the promise of manufacturing careers. 6

RSI Is Doing Its Part

As one of the leading vocational training schools that prepares men and women for skilled trades careers, The Refrigeration School understands the importance of Manufacturing Day and its goal to close the skills gap. Manufacturers encourage the celebration of Manufacturing Day all throughout the month of October, and RSI will be honoring the industry with an Open House on October 14, 2017. We invite students, their families, and the community to come see where a career in the skilled trades can take them—and the country.

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