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Modern Life is Manufactured: How to Share Your Innovations and Inspire Our Youth

By Kylie McFadden

Those of us who work in the manufacturing industry know the stigma that’s been placed around the field – it's seen as “dirty”, unsafe, or a backup option for students who may not excel in college. This image results in parents, advisors, and teachers guiding STEM-oriented students into careers in finance, computer science, and medicine, but not manufacturing. When innovation is happening in an industry that makes our lives better, why are people not inspired to pursue a career in it?

This challenge manufacturers face, of changing the way they’re perceived by society, requires getting people outside the industry to see the true impact and excitement of manufacturing. This won't happen naturally because much of what is manufactured is hidden within things people take for granted every day. People see the sum of the parts and not the parts of the whole. From the electric vehicles that we commute to work in, to the HVAC systems that keep us comfortable, the things many people take for granted are actually the result of years of manufacturing innovation. They are made up of individual processes, parts, and innovations.

Modern life is manufactured, and the industry is not slowing down anytime soon. It’s our job to share the true face of manufacturing with the world. In an industry where we are so often inspired by those around us, how can manufacturers share what sets them apart in a way that connects with people?

Let's tackle this issue and uncover how we as an industry can better celebrate the innovations that make our world great, in pursuit of changing the face of manufacturing.

Share the Aspirational Side of Manufacturing

Having a career day or an open house can be a great way to bring people in for the first time – but it can be hard for people outside manufacturing to connect with your innovations when they don’t see the impact of your work beyond your shop floor.

Start showing them the whole picture! Crafting your programs around showcasing the impact of what you do rather than just the process is key – when you show someone a part that you’ve created, where does it end up? The world is great today because of small manufacturing developments that contribute to a greater whole, and you can inspire people to see beyond the stigma of manufacturing by highlighting your niche in a way that connects with them.

Create Content with Intention

Simply producing content is not enough to promote your company – you need to reach out to your audiences, talk to them, in order to create excitement around your work. Don't just create content for the sake of creating content – the work you create to share with your B2B audiences and with audiences outside the industry should look the part and share your message with intention.

Get your engineers and operators involved in sharing your latest and greatest developments through webinars and videos, interact with your social media audiences, seek out your customers’ questions and create content that answers those questions. You can celebrate the successes of your customers and share the work they do hand-in-hand with your own successes – show how you fit into the world as an essential piece of the supply chain.

Develop Avenues to Build a Skilled Workforce

The skilled labor gap in manufacturing is no secret and has only been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 54% of manufacturers having trouble finding candidates with the right skills. If candidates don’t have the right skills, what can be done? You need to bring the skills to the candidates. Get in touch with counselors at local schools and share with them your initiatives. Providing training and apprentice programs and partnering with local colleges for open house days can help you build your own workforce instead of seeking out from a limited pool of potential workers. For students as young as middle school, programs to shadow a manufacturing professional can help inspire their future career path, and getting them involved early helps them share their experience with others and results in skilled labor down the road.

By loudly and proudly celebrating the manufactured items that make a difference in our everyday lives, we can drive innovations for decades to come. If we’re able to connect with young people and show them the true value of manufacturing, we can inspire a workforce that will help us continue to innovate into the future. And on a day like Manufacturing Day, that’s cause for celebration.

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