In the video above, it’s clear that young people are shying away from STEM education because of a distorted perception of manufacturing employment and careers. Although the people in this film are bright, they are not very knowledgeable about manufacturing or technical careers.
When you watch this video, you see that some of the statistics that are cited are quite interesting. Over 17 million people are employed in the manufacturing world and on average the compensation for these careers exceeds $77,000. So while the jobs are there and they pay well, young people show little if any interest. According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), 18-24 year olds rank manufacturing 5 out of 7 for career preferences. However, more than 80% believe manufacturing is important to our economy and standard of living.
The fact is that we need to address the skills gap before we can develop the engineers and technicians of the future. A study from The National Defense Industrial Association reported that between 5th and 12th grade 74% of the children do not have access to or interest in STEM the coursework they need to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing environment. Without this baseline education, our younger generations won’t be qualified to fill the highly technical careers that are now the benchmark of a manufacturing environment.
Many companies are addressing this gap by working with local educators and school administrators to support and encourage STEM education. Some organizations partner with workforce development agencies to identify and groom future manufacturing candidates. Still, others are using the old model of apprenticeships to grow their own talent internally.
The NAM conducted a Talent Development Roundtable as part of their initiative to drive education innovation and promote manufacturing careers. The product of this collaboration between educators and industry is called Manufacturing Skills Certification System. These standards will help companies validate the workforce readiness of new employees and interns. With this certification, the system assesses technical skills across 14 sectors of advanced manufacturing. NAM is now working to develop standards that will be applicable to higher-level education and industry specific occupations.
With these collaborations and educational reboots, we hope that the newer generation will begin seeing the manufacturing industry in a new light and begin planning their future with STEM. The injection molding industry as well as other industries are vital for keeping the country moving and we need the newer generation to work toward the dream.