As the fifth annual national Manufacturing Day, Oct. 7, approaches, manufacturing and the sector’s career opportunities are in the spotlight. Local communities across the country have designated a day, a week or the entire month as a time to recognize and promote the interesting, innovative and rewarding careers found in manufacturing facilities.
National Manufacturing Day was created five years ago in response to a major shortage of skilled workers. Industry studies found an estimated two million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled over the next decade because manufacturers won’t be able to find applicants with the required skills.
Showing the consequences of such a shortage, the manufacturing skills gap study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute revealed 82 percent of executives believe the skills gap will affect their ability to meet customer demand, and 78 percent believe the gap will affect their ability to implement new technologies and increase productivity.
One of the best ways to push back against the gap is to increase awareness and reverse misperceptions of modern manufacturing careers. Students, teachers, parents, job seekers, community leaders and others should know more about all that manufacturing offers. Through Manufacturing Day events, commonly taking place in a manufacturing facility, students and others get an up-close look at the technology and skills behind products that are made right here in our communities and being used around the globe.
Early research indicates increased awareness is moving the needle. A survey of students who attended a Manufacturing Day event showed 81 percent were more convinced manufacturing provides careers that are both interesting and rewarding.
That finding mirrors what other studies tell us: Personal experience greatly influences career decisions. And further, those familiar with today’s manufacturing have more favorable impressions.
The staff of the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail has been honored to work with businesses, schools and other community organizations to showcase manufacturing in our eight-county region - which includes Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington County.
In Marion County, we’re looking forward to a Manufacturing Day event at Marion County High School on Oct. 21.
There is no shortage of career opportunities for skilled workers in fields like tooling, welding, industrial maintenance, a variety of engineering disciplines and more. And as I’ve witnessed firsthand, as students and career seekers learn more about the world of manufacturing, they are more interested in planning for the skills training and post-secondary education they need to succeed in these fields. It also has been encouraging to see students who are excited about local businesses where they can build a successful career right in their hometowns, be it Lebanon, Bardstown, Elizabethtown, Leitchfield or one of the many other area cities that are home to thriving manufacturing facilities.
Along those same lines, as we recognize the manufacturing sector in October, we would be remiss not to consider what the sector means for our communities and the quality of life we enjoy. In the Lincoln Trail region, manufacturing accounts for 22 percent of all jobs, and represents more than 30 percent of all wages. Growing a talent pipeline so that our existing manufacturers can find the talent they need to succeed and so that our communities can attract new business investment is critical to creating new jobs and ensuring our economic health.
Job seekers can learn more about manufacturing career opportunities in the Lincoln Trail region by visiting ltcareercenter.org, or contacting any Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail location.
Terri Thomas is a client services manager and member of the business services team at Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail, which is overseen by the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. She can be reached at (270) 692-6870 or email@example.com.