In my inbox this morning, in one of the many manufacturing newsletters I subscribe to, was a link to an article describing a new initiative, backed by “over 200 companies including GM, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson”, aimed at “helping Americans adjust to new workforce reality and find jobs.”
The campaign, “Find Something New”, created by the Ad Council, offers resources to explore a range of education and training options, including online and virtual learning, with the purpose of connecting students and adults across the U.S. to recommended education pathways, information about rising careers to consider, and a directory of resources.
Among the pathways listed are: online learning, professional certification programs, associate's degrees and vocational, technical and trades education. The campaign also features stories from real individuals who found fulfilling careers after embracing new ways of learning.
Since I received this link from a manufacturing newsletter, I got excited to visit the campaign website and see all the information on pathways to a career in manufacturing. Unfortunately, after a dedicated half-hour of searching, the closest job I found was, “Aerospace Engineer and Operations Technician”, defined on the website as a person who operates and maintains equipment used in developing, testing, producing and sustaining new aircraft and spacecraft.
Skills and knowledge related to manufacturing are certainly needed to pursue this career, but the word “manufacturing” did not appear anywhere in the job description. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see the word “manufacturing” anywhere on the entire website.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) website dedicates a whole page on their website toward “Workforce” and contains informative snapshots of students and adults who have pursued manufacturing and found meaningful, lasting, and lucrative work in our industry. It also offers resources toward workforce development and career advancement.
All of NAM’s information is great, but NAM is an organization serving as “a one-stop shop for manufacturers and manufacturing.” Whereas “Find Something New” is an initiative broadly reaching “all Americans”. In other words, a person would already have to be interested in learning more about manufacturing before they’d find NAM’s information. As far as getting our name out to the average job seeker, as an industry, we still have a long way to go.
Co-host Nick Goellner announced on this week’s podcast, it is my last week as a contributing writer at MakingChips. While I am not leaving the manufacturing industry altogether, I am moving on to my own version of “Finding Something New” by starting my own small manufacturing company with the goal to provide advances in smart manufacturing through hardware and software development. I am excited for the next step in my career, and will miss contributing to the Boring Bar. However, I will always consider myself to be part of the MakingChips family and will continue to listen to Nick, Jim Carr, Jason Zenger and their guests each week, as you do, to expand my industry knowledge.
Reflecting on the past two years, and considering the cumulation of news and evolving industry practices we have covered, I have to admit I am let down to see so little representation of manufacturing careers, not just on the “Try Something New” website, but everywhere. In my opinion, everything career-minded students and adults are seeking points directly toward us. Even the general public awareness of the manufacturing industry is at an all time high due to Covid-19. Why is it still so hard to get connected to our target workforce?
Back when I first started writing a weekly column for MakingChips, I wrote an article, “Manufacturing and Unemployment: Something Doesn’t Add Up”. It contains the following quote:
“The National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute reports that despite sixty four percent of Americans believing US manufacturing is high-tech and globally competitive, less than half believe manufacturing jobs are interesting and rewarding, clean and safe, and stable and secure than in the past. Further, less than three in 10 Americans surveyed said they would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.”
Could it be that “image” is one of our biggest hurdles? It would seem so.
If ever there was a time for your business to think about its marketing strategy it is now. With this final opportunity to have your attention I will shamelessly plug the marketing services of my soon-to-be former employers at MakingChips. Our whole industry needs a rebrand. Let it start with you! My former colleagues know just how to help you make it happen.
Finally, as I depart, it is my hope that my contribution to MakingChips has been helpful to the community. There are so many interesting stories to tell and ideas to share, I’d encourage you, as industry leaders, to share more, recruit more, and advocate more. I truly believe in the U.S. Manufacturing Industry and I look forward to contributing in a different way by ‘trying something new”.
Wishing you all the best of luck in chip making and beyond.