Opening doors on Manufacturing Day
Posted on October 16th, 2018 by plasticycle
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More than 200 plastics companies opened their doors Oct. 5 to students, educators, job seekers and their greater communities for Manufacturing Day, a national event meant to inspire and motivate a new generation of manufacturers.
The National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute produce Manufacturing Day. The Plastics Industry Association has sponsored the event for the last six years, the last two as a gold sponsor. Other sponsors include PTC, Ariel Corp., Cooper Standard, Harley-Davidson, PepsiCo Inc., Samsung Electronics and Walmart Inc.
“Our industry is facing a workforce crisis — with far more jobs open than we have people to fill them. It’s a challenge all manufacturers are tackling, but it also presents promising opportunities for those looking for a meaningful, rewarding career,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, who also serves as board chairman of the Manufacturing Institute, said in a statement.
El Paso, Texas-based custom injection molder Plastic Molding Technology Inc. held its fifth Manufacturing Day for around 100 attendees, which included students from the University of Texas at El Paso supply chain and operations management organization, Pebble Hills High School and Riverside High School. Students were shown an overview video of the company and then split into two groups.
Those on the facility tour visited different aspects of the operations, from the floor to the engineering department to quality lab. Those in the training room participated in a robotics demonstration and career fair with jobs, apprenticeships and internships.
“We feel it’s really important to be involved in Manufacturing Day because a lot of students in our area — and across the nation, really — don’t really have a great understanding of the manufacturing industry,” said Jennifer Perez, marketing communications specialist for PMT. “The same with maybe their teachers and career counselors. A lot of times they don’t know that we’re here, so we really like to build up our presence with Manufacturing Day to help students see that there are great career options here in El Paso for them — whether they want to go to college, whether they want to go straight into an apprenticeship after high school — there are lots of options.”
A career in manufacturing
Manufacturing Day was first held in 2012 and organized by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International.
According to the official Manufacturing Day website, the number of registered events for the day has grown more than 1,000 percent. The first event had 240 participating events. In 2017, that number grew to nearly 3,000 registered events.
In a survey administered by Deloitte and based on 2016 participation, 71 percent of Manufacturing Day respondents were more likely to tell friends, family, parents and colleagues about manufacturing after attending an event. As well, 84 percent of respondents were more convinced that manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding.
Extreme Tool and Engineering, a tool builder and injection molder, opened its Wakefield, Mich., facility to about 200 people, according to President Mike Zacharias, for its first Manufacturing Day open house, which allowed the community to get a behind-the-scenes look at the plastics company.
The company ran an ad for its event in the local newspaper as well as on Facebook and LinkedIn. Zacharias said LinkedIn was “the best promotional tool we had.”
Lead laser weld operator Ty Patritto, who has been with the company for more than a year, said in a statement that he was “blown away” by what Extreme Tool has in Northern Michigan and that he is excited to be part of the team.
Extreme Tool took advantage of Manufacturing Day to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The company has grown from six employees in 1998 to more than 80.
“I think that Manufacturing Day is a great platform to really eliminate the boundaries and barriers between education and manufacturing and realize we’re all working toward the same goal together,” Zacharias said.
Krauss-Maffei Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of the Munich, Germany-based global manufacturer KraussMaffei Group, welcomed 70 people to its own event on Oct. 11 at its Florence, Ky. headquarters. The Manufacturing Day event was originally scheduled for Oct. 5 but was rescheduled due to local schools being on fall break. Activities included facility tours and plastics machinery demonstrations.
“There is an increasing demand for highly skilled professionals in the manufacturing sector who can design, program and operate technology,” Krauss-Maffei Corp. President and CEO Paul Caprio said in a statement. “The average age of a manufacturing employee is 56, and between now and 2020, there will be an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers who will need to be replaced.”
Filling the skills gap
A 2015 study by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte confirmed there is a significant, widening skills gap in manufacturing: 84 percent of executives agree there is a shortage of talent in U.S. manufacturing, and six in 10 available skilled production positions are unfilled due to the shortage.
So, what’s causing the shortage? The leading factors that impact the talent shortage mentioned were retirement of baby boomers, strength of the economy and attractiveness of the industry.
The official Manufacturing Day website says more than 3.5 million job openings are expected over the next decade.
“When students and parents experience modern manufacturing firsthand, their attitudes and opinions about our industry shift for the better,” the website says.
PMT’s Perez said the company has seen “great results” having participated in five Manufacturing Day events.
“A lot of students that come through, we’ll see later on as college interns at our company. Or our first apprentice, he came through earlier this year on a plant tour,” she said. “People who come through do have an interest. We are able to find some really great candidates from having these tours.”
According to the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte report, only half of Americans believe a job in manufacturing would be interesting and rewarding, and yet 90 percent of Americans believe manufacturing is “very important to economic prosperity.”
Manufacturing Day is hoping to change that perception.
“The plastics industry will not realize its full capacity for growth and production unless companies take an active approach to workforce development,” Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association, said in a statement. “Manufacturing Day is the perfect opportunity for companies in our industry to connect with future generations and show people the ingenuity and innovation that jobs in plastic offer.”