Matching Manufacturing Perceptions with Realities

A survey suggests the public continues to view manufacturing in a negative light, despite evidence to the contrary.


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Depending on who you listen to, you’ll get a very different view of the career prospects
in the manufacturing industry.
How likely is it that any young person would seriously consider a manufacturing career if his or her parents, teachers and peers are all encouraging a different direction? Judging from the results of a survey recently commissioned by cutting tool manufacturer Kennametal, it might very well be happening. Among other findings, the survey shows large majorities of the public have a negative view of manufacturing’s current and future prospects, believe few manufacturing jobs are available, and would not encourage young people to pursue manufacturing careers.
As Kennametal points out in the link above, various facts on the ground paint a very different picture of the sector, which has led the recovery and is in dire need of skilled labor. Still, it doesn’t surprise me that the public seems wedded to its negative outlook, even in the face of contradictory evidence. Opinions and perceptions can be hard to change, especially those ingrained over a long period of time. And for a long period of time, one reality of U.S. manufacturing was declining employment and all the economic and social strife that comes with it.

As for its part in improving the industry’s image, Kennametal recently concluded a 15-week-long mentoring program. The company also isn’t holding back when it comes to encouraging other major industry players to take similar action, as CEO Carlos Cardoso did in a speech last month at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Many answered that call before it came, as Kennametal certainly isn’t the only company or organization committed to getting the word out about manufacturing career opportunities. Still, the data indicate it’s going to take a major push to match outdated perceptions with new realities.