Industrial fabricators across the country celebrate their trade on National Manufacturing Day, which occurs annually on the first Friday in October. The National Association of Manufacturers founded the holiday in 2011 in collaboration with several industry organizations, including the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The U.S. manufacturing industry has indeed grown stronger in the wake of the Great Recession. Since 2008, manufacturing output has recovered, according to data from National Bureau of Economic Research. In 2014, receipts officially surpassed $5.9 trillion, eclipsing the previous peak revenue seen before the economic collapse.
The sector now employs more than 12 million workers who, on average, earn salaries of $77,000, according to the NIST. Those on science, technology, engineering and mathematics career paths have especially bright futures ahead of them, as STEM jobs are expected to increase by 8.65 million by next year, as fabricators turn toward more advanced production methods in an effort to optimize efficiency and bolster productivity.
In short, the organizations and individuals observing #MFGDAY17 have much to celebrate.
Celebrating National Manufacturing Day
In 2014 proclamation, leaders called on manufacturers and educators to open their doors and take up the important work of inspiring our young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. Many are heeding the call, hosting over 2,300 separate events in cities across the U.S. These add to the nearly 8,000 held during the previous four years.
This year, the NIST plans to lead students from Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, its various laboratories, including those centered on additive and smart manufacturing. Private enterprises throughout the U.S. are hosting similar events to counter the negative perceptions many have of the manufacturing sector and shine light on how it has progressed and continues to grow. These efforts have proven effective, according to research from NAM and Deloitte. Last year the organizations collaborated to survey educators and students who participated in events organized for National Manufacturing Day 2015. Approximately 89 percent of students and 90 percent of instructors said they came away from these sessions with a greater understanding of the roles manufacturers play locally and nationally. Additionally, 84 percent of students and 90 percent of teachers attested to feeling that the industry offered robust, forward-thinking career paths as a result of the events they attended.
In raising this awareness, manufacturers not only improve their public profiles but also lay the groundwork for long-term solutions to some of the major problems affecting the industry as a whole.
Addressing central issues
Individuals between the ages of 45 and 65 hold an estimated 80 percent of all manufacturing jobs, according to data from the NIST. This presents a serious problem, as a good portion of the seasoned, skilled professionals who drive operations could age out of the industry soon, leaving fabricators understaffed.
Fortunately, awareness initiatives like National Manufacturing Day are making an impact. For instance, 64 percent of the students polled last year during the post-event survey expressed interest in pursuing manufacturing careers. This indicates that relief may be on the horizon, as young people look to break into the industry. In the short term, hiring numbers are strong, as a six-year high in factory activity has forced many firms to build out their rosters, The New York Times reported. If young skilled workers can enter facilities within the next three to five years, the space may be able to avoid a historic talent drought like the one currently affecting the agricultural sector.
In addition to addressing overarching staffing issues, National Manufacturing Day helps fabricators reach new audiences and cultivate interest in demographics that have not historically had a strong passion for the industry. For instance, a mere 27 percent of manufacturing workers are women, the NIST found. However, with more widespread awareness efforts, this disparity may soon unravel, leading to a more diverse, talented industry.
The U.S. manufacturing industry continues to flourish and during National Manufacturing Day, firms can take a moment to appreciate their impact while looking forward to new challenges and working with those inside and outside the sector to address them. After all, when our manufacturing base is strong, our entire economy is strong.