How Can We Change Misperceptions Of Manufacturing?

American manufacturing companies continue to have trouble finding enough skilled workers. But manufacturing has a larger problem that few in the industry realize is directly related to the lack of skilled workers: Manufacturing has an image problem.

Columns From: 6/6/2004 Modern Machine Shop,

American manufacturing companies continue to have trouble finding enough skilled workers. But manufacturing has a larger problem that few in the industry realize is directly related to the lack of skilled workers: Manufacturing has an image problem.

Manufacturing's unglamourous image has made attracting young people to manufacturing professions increasingly difficult.

Baby boomers are quickly retiring, and these misperceptions could turn our current talent shortage into a serious labor crisis. The lack of skilled employees could, in turn, decrease manufacturing's competitiveness; accelerate the shift of American productive capacity and well-paid manufacturing jobs overseas; and weaken an economy that is just beginning to recover.

The solution to the image problem is clear: Manufacturers must work to create a better image and build a better understanding of the dignity, good pay and personal satisfaction careers that the industry offers. The industry needs you to engage youth at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) to experience the challenge and excitement of careers in manufacturing.

The Student Summit, held in conjunction with IMTS, focuses on career opportunities and the state and future of manufacturing. It gives students an opportunity to interface with industry representatives and students already on a manufacturing career path.

As an Industry Mentor or IMTS Student-Friendly Exhibitor, you can be a key participant in the Student Summit's success. By working directly with students, you can help change outdated perceptions of manufacturing jobs, conditions and compensation and turn young minds on to the prospect of a rewarding career in manufacturing.

The only key responsibility of an Industry Mentor or IMTS Student-Friendly Exhibitor is to provide answers and dialog about career opportunities and champion manufacturing. By communicating unfamiliar facts to the industry stakeholders and sharing the excitement of your experiences, we can begin to correct the misperceptions of manufacturing.

Making manufacturing attractive to all stakeholders is a challenge. But once students are aware of the high-tech and high-paying jobs, it's easier to encourage them to seek a career and education path in manufacturing. IMTS presents an unparalleled showcase for informing young people about the benefits of being involved in manufacturing. Employees are able to manage perceptions and change the antiquated picture of a factory as a dark, dirty and uncomfortable place to work.

Your role as an Industry Mentor or IMTS Student-Friendly Exhibitor provides an opportunity to reach out and enlighten our youth—your future potential customers and employees.

Visit www.IMTSNET.org/StudentSummit for further information.

If you wish to participate in the Industry Mentor and IMTS Student-Friendly Exhibitor Programs, contact Tracy Hirsch at (703) 827-5222 or thirsch@amtonline.org.

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