Hundreds of manufacturers around the country will open their doors to the public tomorrow, October 6, for Manufacturing Day, which, organizers say, “is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.” The annual event is an important means for the industry to show students, educators and the general public what modern manufacturing looks like. Organizers note that by working together during and after “MFG DAY”, manufacturers can address the skilled labor shortage, connect with future generations, improve the public’s perception of manufacturing and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry. It is, at the same time, an opportunity for students to see diverse career options which are innovative, impactful and durable, and gain an understanding of how they can apply their studies in math and science to better suit those careers.


“Manufacturing Day truly dispels old, negative myths about manufacturing and highlights the shift from a labor-intense environment to one of high-tech, robotics and computers,” Dr. Chris Kuehl, managing partner at Armada Corporate Intelligence, said at a panel discussion titled “How Manufacturing Drives the Economy,” held earlier this week to kick off Manufacturing Day. “It also provides opportunities to communicate how manufacturing is a big part of GDP and our economy.”


Last year’s event attracted nearly 600,000 people across the country, including more than 260,000 students. Deloitte conducted a follow up survey, developed in collaboration with The Manufacturing Institute, of students who participated, and found that Manufacturing Day is positively impacting attendees’ perception of the manufacturing industry and its career options. Among key results are that as a result of attending Manufacturing Day events, 81 percent of student respondents said they are more convinced manufacturing provides careers that are both interesting and rewarding; 71 percent of student respondents said they are more likely to tell friends, family, parents or colleagues about manufacturing; 93 percent of educators said they are more convinced manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding; and 90 percent of educators indicated they are more likely to encourage students to pursue a career in manufacturing.


Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, told the Detroit Free Press that technology will create more changes in the auto industry in the next five years than it has in the past 50 years. Manufacturing Day, she explains, has become an important component of the company’s efforts to address its growing need for talent adept with technology.


“It’s my hope more students joint us in the technical fields required to lead the future of mobility,” Barra said.


Equally important, Andra Rush, chairman of the Rush Group of Companies told the Free Press that the events aim to educate not only students themselves, but also inform parents that manufacturing is not the “dirty, dangerous and dull work” it used to be. It gives companies a way to reach schoolchildren, but also their parents and educators through manufacturing experiences to shift perceptions, Rush says.


According to research last year by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, 82 percent of executives responding to a skills gap survey said they believe the gap will impact their ability to meet customer demand. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of the executives further said they believe it will impact their company’s ability to implement new technologies and increase productivity. Finally, large numbers of the executives also said the lack of skilled workers hurts the ability to provide effective customer service (cited by 69 percent of the participants) and decreases the ability to innovate and develop new products (cited by 62 percent of the respondents).


As large numbers of Baby Boomers retire, it’s increasingly important to build new pipelines of talent. What are your thoughts on Manufacturing Day? Does your company have any events planned? Finally, do you think this type of event can help with industry perception problems, and correspondingly lead to an influx of future talent?