As I’ve written in another post, people have a huge disconnect when it comes to manufacturing. This disconnect is why only 30% of surveyed parents encourage their children to enter manufacturing and only 17% of those surveyed view manufacturing as a top career choice.

manufacturing info

Until recently, I was part of that 30% demographic. I grew up with manufacturing and have worked many manual labor jobs. I know how tough they can be. It’s one reason I went to college and then ensured my son got a good education.

But, as I’ve also been writing of late, manufacturing has changed. Big time. Today, due to on-shoring, baby boomers retiring, the Internet, and all sorts of other things, manufacturing is a highly desirable career option.

manufacturing reality

(View the full Manufacturing in America infographic.)

Given these changes, and given that a typical four-year college education (and decades of debt to finance it) is really not the best choice for everyone, I began broaching the topic of an “alternative” path with my son.

When I first mentioned manufacturing, he shut me down. “No, Mom. I want to go into computer science. At [insert Big Name College here]. I’m not a mechanical person.”

But then I began talking about the Industrial Internet of Things. He instantly understood that concept given he’s connected by phone to just about everything. I told him about the wonderful innovations manufacturers are making using computers, software and other tools. We talked about 3D printing — which he also knew about and found interesting.

I told him how with his skills, from computer science and writing to analytical thinking and foreign language fluency, he could write his own career ticket.

I said, “Today, manufacturing is all about robotics, data, software, computers, and geeks. They need smart people like you. Would you like to tour a few companies with me on Friday, October 3? It’s Manufacturing Day, and companies across the US are opening their doors to students like you.”

Silence.

Then quietly he replied, “Yes, I’d like to do that with you.” Yes! Woohoo! (Of course, the thought of skipping school for a day probably helped. 🙂 )

If you’re having conversations like this with your high school teen, I highly encourage you to take the day off and tour a company or two. My son and I are touring three companies, two in Massachusetts, and one in New Hampshire — one if which is a manufacturer of 3D printers!

You can find participating companies in your state by visiting the Manufacturing Day website. Find a few companies that look interesting, then register. Once you register, you’ll also receive a link to a page listing scholarships. Can’t beat that.

In addition to companies opening their doors, community colleges are also participating. Many community colleges now offer classes, in topics such as robotics, in order to train younger workers for the highly-skilled jobs now available. So be sure to check those out as well.

Happy touring and learning!

Dianna Huff is the founder and president of Huff Industrial Marketing, a small agency that builds long-term relationships, based on mutual respect and trust, with the people who run family-owned manufacturing companies.

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