The manufacturing industry is at the heart of the American economy. And yet, many Americans believe it is on the decline as jobs are outsourced overseas and technology is integrated into our work lives.
Its negative reputation is compounded by the perception that manufacturing jobs are seen as low-paying, unskilled and unsafe.
As a result, there is a widening skills gap within the industry as workers retire and, based on their misconception, the next generation of potential employees choose to pursue other career fields.
How can we recover when the next generation of talent has major misconceptions about the entire industry?
4 Common Misconceptions within the Manufacturing Industry
Technology is taking over the industry
It’s not a safe environment in which to work
There are no career opportunities
The salary is not competitive
Many younger workers don’t want to join the trades based on their perception of what the job entails, and what they think the job says about them. Many think of manufacturing as an obsolete industry which has been outsourced overseas or made irrelevant by technology.
They may feel trapped by the conventional thinking to acquire a four-year degree, and dismiss trade or vocational schools as an option. Some may view production floor work as unsafe, unstable, low-pay and low-tech. That just isn’t true.
Technology is Taking Over the Industry
While artificial intelligence, cloud computing and machine learning have altered the manufacturing landscape, people are still responsible for producing most goods.
Today’s manufacturing floors are bursting with advanced technologies and require a high-level of skill and training.
The need for the human touch, oversight, critical thinking and intuition will never be replaced.
It’s Not a Safe Environment in Which to Work
Take a look around any modern manufacturing floor and you will find a clean, safety-conscious environment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created in 1970 to “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers.” Workers also have expanded rights under OSHA and many are protected under a labor union.
Ensuring the safety of employees is not only required, it also reduces disruptions to productivity and curbs against profit loss.
Companies make substantial investments to mitigate safety hazards in the workplace. In 2019, manufacturing had only 3.3 total workplace injury and illness cases per 100 full-time equivalent employees, down from 4.2 injury and illness cases in 2010.