Manufacturing Day is an important new tradition in American business. In fact, it’s probably a lot more important than you realize. For many members of the general public, it’s easy to forget where all our “stuff” comes from. The world manufacturing industry does lots of the heavy lifting that makes civilized life possible. For American manufacturers, this day is arguably even more important still. Making the case that pursuing a career track in manufacturing has never been more worthwhile vital. Let’s take a look at why, and at some Manufacturing Day ideas your company can consider.
What Is Manufacturing Day & What Are Its Goals?
Manufacturing Day takes place on Oct. 6, 2018. To be honest, you’re forgiven if you’ve never heard of it.
This holiday has only been on the books since 2012, after being formally recognized by the National Association of Manufacturing. It’s also less a single holiday and more a general day and date when businesses throw grassroots-style community events centered on promoting manufacturing awareness and seeking bright new talent.
There are several goals the National Association of Manufacturing hopes the event will achieve every year:
- To educate the general public, nationwide, about the vital role of modern manufacturing and the challenges and opportunities in front of it today.
- To help dispel some of the more stubborn myths and misperceptions about manufacturing, including that robots are taking all the jobs, that it’s unskilled work, or that it’s not rewarding and innovative.
- To encourage young people to pursue futures in manufacturing. With some of the misconceptions cleared up, the time is right to encourage a new and diverse wave of manufacturing experts and mechanical and chemical engineers.
In 2013, manufacturing represented just shy of 9 percent of America’s workforce. That makes it a massive employer. We also know it’s also a diverse and inclusive one, given that non-college graduates stand to earn more than 10 percent more in manufacturing roles than they would in other industries.
However, the public doesn’t widely know these things. In fact, if anything, manufacturing is headed for a shortage of skilled and semiskilled workers, if the Federal Reserve’s figures are correct. In just a decade’s time, manufacturing could be struggling with a skills gap 2 million jobs wide.
As we’ve alluded, another of the major goals driving Manufacturing Day is the pursuit of a wider and more diverse talent pool. Manufacturing Day is a chance for companies of all sizes and in all parts of the country to offer tours of their facilities, free food and drink, educational workshops, good conversation, and to conduct early job candidate onboarding when interested and enthusiastic individuals present themselves.
It’s part job fair, part open house, part street bazaar and part classroom experience.
Manufacturers planning an event or series of events around this holiday should ensure their open doors are as open as they can be. Over the last couple of decades, women and minorities have earned a larger share of the general workforce and of manufacturing jobs specifically. However, in 2016 — despite representing nearly half of the entire U.S. workforce — women only held 29 percent of manufacturing positions.
You may also be aware that baby boomers are beginning to retire in droves, which means millennials have an almost unprecedented opportunity to remake the manufacturing industry in their image. It’s an exciting time to be involved with manufacturing.
So there’s work to do. How should companies go about doing this kind of consciousness-raising about the opportunities and potential of high-tech manufacturing? Here are some Manufacturing Day ideas to help you show the public what your company and your industry is all about.
Ideas for Your Own Manufacturing Day Celebration
First up, although diversification is a popular industry buzzword and oftentimes tactically useful to throw around, the people you most want to reach — young people who don’t know about manufacturing as well as minorities who might not have been reached by other recruiting events — are going to be turned off by pandering. Make it clear that you’re hiring for work ethic, integrity and enthusiasm. Radiate respect and be ready to explore with your visitors and tour groups exactly what it is about your career that gets you fired up.
In particular, you’re looking for individuals who show an aptitude for, and interest in, data analysis and business software, material, chemical and mechanical engineering, material handling, logistics specialists and more. Manufacturing will only rely more heavily on higher technologies, and people skilled with their upkeep, as time goes on.
Don’t forget about the wider region in which you operate, either. You might not be a nationwide organization, but your online presence should be shouting loud and clear about Manufacturing Day. This includes interesting social media posts, articles on your official blog and even employee-generated content on their own feeds about why they love working for you and why they find manufacturing exciting.
While your local presence puts out tents, hires musicians and begins tour routes through your facilities and job floors, your digital presence should be casting an even wider net.
Don’t lost sight of what people want out of a career, either. Remember that every $1 investment in U.S. manufacturing returns $1.81 to the larger economy. People have never had a stronger desire for work that matters, and figures like these are perfect for making the case that manufacturing is vital and energizing — and that your company is positioned to help the country and the world keep turning.
Just about everybody gets a genuine kick out of discovering how their favorite products are put together and what kind of people are involved in product development and assembly. When you’re putting together your own Manufacturing Day ideas, remember that while this is an annual event, it’s a great way to remind folks that manufacturing never takes a day off.
You can download the official Manufacturing Day checklist for hosting companies, including instructions for registering your event for maximum publicity. Above all, remember to have fun. For many of your visitors, this will be the first time they’ve seen the curtain pulled back on this vital industry. As their ambassador, make sure their first impressions are positive ones.