Print Friendly, PDF & Email
America needs skilled manufacturing workers; Our children need Jobs. What's the problem?

Excerpted from Barberbiz Blog

Try This and See What Happens

Greg Knight, vice president of  PMPA member AMT Machine Systems,  suggests conducting a little experiment. In a social setting with a group of people, try suggesting that manufacturing just might be an alternative to a traditional four-year college degree.

“The reaction will be, ‘No, my kid needs to go to college.’ A career in manufacturing is not seen as a legitimate choice,” said Knight. “You cannot change ideas on this in a short period of time. This is about cultural change and it will take a lot of time and a lot of work.”

In the recently released “Public Pulse on American Manufacturing” by Deloitte, only 33 percent of parents would encourage their child to pursue a career in manufacturing, only 19 percent of school systems are perceived to encourage students to pursue careers in manufacturing, and only 17 percent of students report being encouraged by their parents to pursue a career in manufacturing.

Our Torn Views

It’s clear that Americans value a strong manufacturing sector. When asked which industries are most important to the national economy, manufacturing is always near the top of the list. If you were to poll economic developers nationwide and ask them if they could create 1,000 new jobs in their community with any new facility, you can bet that for most communities would choose manufacturing.

And yet, if you were to ask those same economic developers if they wanted their sons or daughters to pursue a career in manufacturing, what do you think the answer might be. Well, I think you probably already know the answer to that one.

So we are torn. We want manufacturing jobs, just for someone else. Deloitte’s public pulse study showed that out of seven key industries, manufacturing ranks second to last as a career choice. It remains perceived by most people as an unstable long-term career choice. And our future talent pool is none too thrilled. Among 18-24 year-olds, manufacturing ranks dead last among industries as a career choice.

That’s not good. We have our work cut out for us.

So mamas, your babies don’t have to grow up to be doctors and lawyers and such. They can have a good future in a modern manufacturing plant if they only pursue the training and develop the needed skills.

Nobody said it can or would be easy.

There are no guarantees in life, just better informed choices.

Manufacturing deserves another look.

(Speaking of Precision:I became acquainted with Dean Barber’s thinking through some online discussions  on LinkedIn groups. I thought his thinking reflected ours and was worth sharing.

You can read his full blog here.)


3 thoughts on “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Child Grow Up To Be

  1. Brett says:

    The reasons I believe are quite simple. Who wants to start a career that requires a lifetime requiring some degree of physical labor at a low to moderate beginning pay scale, and is limited in pay long term, (unless of course you move up the company ladder). Which by the way typically requires a formal education at most modern companies.
    I have been in manufacturing since 1978 and have managed to make a decent living (60K/yr). I suspect that my pay scale is in the upper range of most manufacturing jobs. Now if I tell a bunch of high school kids my story do you think they are all going to rush into manufacturing, I don’t think so. In reality it has been a good living and long term I am OK financially. Truthfully if I had to do it all again I would have went to college and sought a degree first.
    Culture may need to change there thinking but try changing the “Powers that Be” that operate these companies into paying higher wages to the people that perform their value added work and see what happens. They will justifiably say that they can’t and still compete. Why? One reason might be is that the people with college degrees in the company are making a much higher wage. If pay is based on value of work performed the scale is extremely tipped. The facts are that all these folks mentioned are required to operate a modern manufacturing facility. The problem is that just as the article mentioned, “We want manufacturing jobs, just for someone else.” They are of course referring to the workers jobs not the engineers and managers. After all the mangers an engineers make more money.

  2. speakingofprecision says:

    Hi Brett. Thanks for joining the conversation. Problem is many college grads are NOT finding higher paying jobs with companies because they got degrees that offer nothing of value to an employer. They took out college loans thinking that they would be repaid with higher earnings- which is proving to be a fallacy.

    Precision machinists are not doing “physical toil”-progressive shops are using humans for their skills and automation for the ‘repetitive’ and drudgery.

    I compile industry wage statistics and precision machinists are, as you say, earning above average. It is not a matter of having to climb the ladder to earn a good wage, but once one has a skill baseline of an operator certification , an associate degree is an easy to achieve next step, usually with employer assistance; further education can build the employees value add. CNC programmers, Toolmakers, Quality Specialists, Quoting Specialists, Estimators, Process Engineers, Profitability Engineers, Setup are all promotable opportunities that offer greater autonomy and authority without having to become a “manager.”

    But until moms and dads figure out that a degree is not a guarantee of a job, let alone decent wages, the basements of America will be filled with degreed adults saddled with debt and no skills or jobs with which to become independent and self supporting.

  3. jacki adams says:

    We MUST also educate the educators and career counselors in our junior and senior high schools about career opportunities in manufacturing. Incorrect perceptions about careers in manufacturing at all levels have permeated our educational system since the late 1950s. I was an Industrial Arts Major in the 1960s…to the dismay of my teachers and guidance counselor….The mantra from them?: “….if you don’t go to college you’ll never amount to anything….” I do agree we must also educate and inform parents…mothers and fathers about the career opportunities in manufacturing…but we also need educators to understand the importance of careers in manufacturing and to support this as a career choice as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>