Manufacturing Day, held on the first Friday of October each year, highlights the importance of understanding the opportunities and challenges within the modern manufacturing world for students as well as the public. The annual event helps to inspire the next generation of workers — an especially important focus during today’s skilled labor shortage.
Skilled Workers Needed
Manufacturers account for nearly 12 percent of the U.S. economy’s total output, and the industry employs 8.5 percent of the workforce. Manufacturing remains among the top five largest employment sectors and is key to U.S. economic contributions, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Manufacturing has experienced a labor shortage in recent years due to an aging workforce and the retirement of baby boomers. Nearly one-fourth of the manufacturing sector’s workers today are 55 or older, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Employment in the industry is also recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with approximately 350,000 roles filled from August 2020 to 2021. Recovery will remain slow for some time: Deloitte predicts as many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs may be unfilled by the year 2028, creating a $454 billion production gap.
Roles within the sector are evolving as the industry landscape shifts, and the demand for highly skilled workers is rising across manufacturing businesses. Among the most in-demand manufacturing roles are those with a heightened digital skill set, focused in areas such as artificial intelligence and automation:
- Industrial and quality engineers
- Operators and technicians
- Production planners and line leaders
Changes to the Industry
The manufacturing industry has experienced setbacks as a result of the pandemic that include delivery delays and supply chain disruptions, production cost increases, and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases that kept factory workers at home. Recoveries by segment have been uneven and may take longer than originally predicted to reach pre-pandemic levels of productivity. These challenges have brought changes in the way businesses are run. Notable among industry impacts, according to Deloitte:
- Supply Chains: Many manufacturers are expected to turn to a digital supply network (DSN) to automate processes and gain improved real-time insights and understanding across complexities
- The New Workplace: The majority of manufacturers responding to a recent survey say they plan to develop a hybrid model for their production/non-production processes over the next three years
- Digital Investments: Many manufacturers may invest in “digital twins,” or a virtual blueprint of a physical manufacturing element, to recreate and simulate performance without physical action
Manufacturing Day Resources
As the manufacturing industry evolves and continues to recover from the pandemic, more companies are seeing the immediate need to attract the next generation of highly skilled manufacturing workers. In partnership with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Manufacturing Day is a vital part of the Manufacturing Institute’s year-round “Creators Wanted” effort to build the workforce of the future. The event has helped aspiring students discover the benefits of manufacturing jobs since it began in 2012.
There are several in-person and virtual events this year to learn more about manufacturing, including sessions by Johnson & Johnson, the American Welding Society and colleges across the U.S. Crucial to this year’s Manufacturing Day topics is the digital evolution that is changing operations and the types of roles needed in today’s environment, including biomanufacturing, machining, aviation and plastics.
Find a complete list of events and resources at the Creators Wanted 2021 Manufacturing Day page.
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