Manufacturing is now seen by Americans as an industry which plays a vital role in safeguarding U.S. economic prosperity and maintaining their quality of life, according to the 2017 Manufacturing Perceptions Survey from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. The study found more than three-quarters (76 percent) of Americans surveyed believe the U.S. should invest further in the manufacturing industry.


“More people understand modern manufacturing is high-tech,” says Seema Pajula, and vice chairman, & U.S. Consumer & Industrial Products Managing Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP. “They expect jobs to involve innovation and advanced technology in the future, which is progress for the industry in realigning the image of what modern manufacturing looks like to the general public.”


Among the study’s findings of note are that among those surveyed, 83 percent believe U.S. manufacturing is critical to economic prosperity, 81 percent believe trade and export of American manufactured goods benefit the U.S. economy, and 76 percent believe the U.S. should invest more in manufacturing. The survey also found that Americans believe future manufacturing jobs will be more high-skill, less manual labor—with 88 percent of the respondents saying they expect future manufacturing jobs will require a higher level of technical skill, and 77 percent expect manufacturing jobs will require less manual labor. Furthermore, 81 percent of respondents believe that future manufacturing jobs will be more clean and safe due to automation and reduced manual labor.


Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents believe the U.S. manufacturing industry is already high-tech, up from 43 percent in the 2014 survey.


“Helping Americans’ perceptions of manufacturing catch up with reality is a vital step in addressing the skills gap, as the U.S. manufacturing industry continues to create diverse jobs involving advanced technologies and innovation,” says Michelle Drew Rodriguez, senior manager, Deloitte Services LP and manufacturing leader for Deloitte’s Center for Industry Insights. “The demand for these high-skilled positions is expected to soar over the next decade with 3.5 million manufacturing jobs becoming available between 2015 and 2025 as the industry evolves and baby boomers continue to retire.”


In thinking about future growth of the industry and demand for skilled workers, it’s sobering to read that although 67 percent of the respondents said they believe manufacturing jobs are interesting and rewarding, only half believe a career in manufacturing provides good pay relative to other industries. Fueling that apprehension are concerns about job security and stability, and a weak career path.


Then again, it’s encouraging to learn that American parents and Americans with high manufacturing familiarity are nearly twice as likely to encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career than non-parents and those with low familiarity. What’s more, Americans have expressed interest for programs that focus on hands-on skills development like internships, apprenticeships and certification on manufacturing skills as possible ways to attract talent to manufacturing. Indeed, 67 percent of the respondents said they believe internships and apprenticeship programs would increase interest in manufacturing careers.


What are your thoughts about manufacturing in the U.S. and the future of manufacturing jobs? Do they survey findings mirror your beliefs?