For the last seven years, the first Friday of October kicks off events across the country celebrating modern manufacturing with the goal of inspiring the next generation of manufacturers. Called “Manufacturing Day,” companies and community organizations come together to address common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is all about. By working together during and after Manufacturing Day, manufacturers across the U.S. can address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the entire industry.
In fact, addressing the talent gap that exists in the manufacturing industry is a top priority. With Baby Boomers retiring and the need for highly specialized skills in today’s modern manufacturing environment, firms are looking to attract potential recruits to fill their need. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) put the spotlight on the fact that, while automated and data-driven manufacturing companies are looking to hire software engineers on their factory floors, they are often finding themselves simply outgunned by tech firms. This struggle to attract software engineers further complicates the U.S. manufacturing skills gap that exists due to decades of offshoring production to countries with cheaper labor or even more advanced factory technology, according to the WSJ article.
In fact, according to the U.S. Labor Department, there are plenty of manufacturing jobs to be filled. The agency reported 337,000 manufacturing openings in the U.S. at the end of August but only 277,000 hires that month. Software engineering and developing jobs were the second most in demand in manufacturing over the past year after high-turnover sales positions, according to labor-market analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies.
One of the issues facing manufacturing firms when it comes to hiring is the salary disparity that exists with tech companies. On average, tech companies pay $105,227, 12% more than manufacturing employers, for software developers, according to Burning Glass Technologies. For entry-level software jobs, tech companies pay $88,820, 5% more than manufacturers.
There is also the cachet associated with the highly recognized Silicon Valley tech companies to which potential candidates are attracted. This is in part why Manufacturing Day is so important to the industry – it’s an opportunity to showcase through its community events how dynamic a career in manufacturing can be. Many colleges in conjunction with manufacturers throughout the country, for example, host events to highlight how advanced technology is being used at plants today.
“We must change that perception of manufacturers as outdated factories filled with line jobs,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said at a recent trade show for makers of factory equipment in Chicago.
Some do predict recruiting will become easier as the manufacturing sector evolves and that the line between a tech and a non-tech company will diminish over time. Of course, as the manufacturing industry increasingly goes high-tech, their insurance needs will evolve. RPS is poised to assist you in providing comprehensive manufacturing insurance to clients throughout the U.S.