A career in manufacturing: There’s more than meets the eye

According to the National Association of Manufacturers most recent manufacturing data report, Wisconsin ranks number two among states with the highest share of manufacturing jobs (16.3 percent).

This rating is second to our neighbors in Indiana.

Manufacturing Careers in the US

Facts about manufacturing:

  • Manufacturing supports more than 17.6 million jobs in the United States
  • Manufacturing directly employs more than 12 million Americans, or 9 percent of the U.S. workforce.
  • In 2013, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $77,506. That’s 10 percent more than what the average U.S. worker employed in other industries earns.

Recruiting Skilled Manufacturing Employees

This gets me wondering … why is it so hard to enlist new recruits to the world of manufacturing?

Perhaps it is due to the wide misperceptions concerning a manufacturing career. Is there an overall “interest gap” surrounding these types of jobs?

Perhaps we all need to work a bit harder to educate our young people on all manufacturing has to offer in an effort to revitalize this very rewarding and exciting industry.

Spark an Interest in Manufacturing Careers

There will always be technical schools and universities offering manufacturing and engineering degrees. But offering degrees alone does little to fuel an interest among those who may not have considered a manufacturing career in the first place.

Employers need to partner with schools at the middle and high school stage to begin fueling this potential curiosity early on. Scholarships, competitions, mentoring opportunities, career fairs—these are all great means to pique an interest about the trade we love.

And then there’s perception. Factories of today are nothing like those of our predecessors—today’s shop floors are bright, clean and high-tech. Plant tours can expose these myths for what they are and show our “workers of the future” just how cool manufacturing really is.

After all, who doesn’t love a robot? We need to really show our young people that manufacturing is no longer just assembly lines and lever pulling.

We need to take a team approach to promoting a career in manufacturing—especially to our young people. The Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance has a number of tools manufacturers can use to educate students, parents, teachers and even the media about the many rewarding career opportunities in manufacturing.


Is your organization participating in any of these initiatives?