By: Mike Katz
I started my career in manufacturing and will end my career a manufacturer. When I made the choice to work for GE in their manufacturing management program (MMP) straight out of university, I didn’t know that I was making a career choice. I thought I was just choosing the best job. I think manufacturing has a way of pulling a person in like that. There is a pace, and a heartbeat that you can almost feel in a factory. I guess that is why I stayed for almost thirty years now.
I was recently researching some reasons why a young person entering the workforce, or someone in transition from another career, might want to choose manufacturing today. I believe it tells a compelling story that should be applicable to today’s job seekers.
1) A Diverse Range of Opportunities – Manufacturing accounts for 17.4M US jobs and has roles from engineering, to human resources, to accounting, to processing and more.
2) Skills Shortage – Manufacturing has an aging work force, where 80% of the current work force is between 45 and 65. That creates great opportunities for prospective employees and provides a clear path for great advancement opportunities. In a recent survey, 67% of employers report a moderate to severe skills gap.
3) Higher than Average Earnings and Healthcare Benefits – Average earnings in Manufacturing are 35% higher than the national average for all wages (OECD Study) and 90% of manufacturing workers receive medical benefits.
4) Manufacturing as a Multiplier on the Economy – Every dollar of manufactured produced goods plows back $1.40 into the economy through the economic multiplier effect so the economy gets an overall boost. Comparing that to $1 of retail providing $0.66 and $1 of service providing $0.61 to the economy, one can see the huge effect that manufacturing has on our nation.
5) Create Something Tangible – There is a great feeling of pride in seeing something created from prototype to production, and then seeing it out in the world in which we live being used.
I believe these points to be true in all US geographies and across all industries. But don’t take my word for it. If you have the chance, go visit a local manufacturing company yourself. If you currently work in manufacturing, then tell someone who doesn’t to check us out. Manufacturing represents 10% of our country’s work force and accounts for $2.2 Trillion of the US economy. Continuing to grow this valuable sector will create great opportunities for today’s young people in the future.