Report Shows Manufacturing Is Growing, as Is the Need for Skilled Workers

ThomasNet’s annual Industry Market Barometer (IMB) report, a survey of more than 1,200 American manufacturers, confirms what many manufacturers around the country already know: that manufacturing is a thriving industry that is constantly improving and innovating. But this dynamism is on the verge of being comprised by another oft-discussed feature of modern manufacturing: a growing shortage of skilled workers.

According to the report, 55 percent of manufacturers surveyed reported that their business grew in 2012. Sixty-three percent anticipate growth this year. Meanwhile, most of their employees are at least 45-years old, with retirement on the horizon. By 2025, 75 percent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector will need to come from Generation Y if the industry is to keep growing and evolving at its current rate.

While many manufacturers are aware that this major transition is underway, eight out of ten respondents have few employees from the Millennial Generation and most have no plan for addressing this gap. Seventy-three percent of respondents believe that negative perceptions about manufacturing careers have a lot to do with the general lack of younger workers.

There are two ways to address this issue, on which so much seems to depend. The first is to show modern manufacturing for what it is: a sleek, technology-driven industry full of high-paid, fulfilling careers. To do so, manufacturers need to open their doors and invite the public to observe their operations first-hand. The second is to reach out to students directly, developing relationships with schools and educators to foster an interest in manufacturing careers and the educational programs that make students eligible for them — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Manufacturing Day hopes to give manufacturers an opportunity to do both these things — to represent manufacturing accurately on a national scale and to connect directly with students and others interested in manufacturing careers. Together, under the banner of MFG DAY and by working with aligned initiatives, we can begin to solve manufacturing’s generational issue and perpetuate manufacturing’s growth and innovation!

To read a more detailed summary of the ThomastNet IMB report, please go www.thomasnet.com/imb.