Destigmatizing Manufacturing Careers & Blue Collar Jobs

Let’s put it plainly—manufacturing is essential if we want to produce the equipment and technologies that power our lives. This makes it all the more tragic that there’s a massive stigma surrounding the many blue collar jobs that power the manufacturing industry and make it difficult to retain enough skilled workers to provide growth and prosperity.

Millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the United States, and to bring them back, it will take a concerted effort to attract younger generations to work in the industry. How, you might ask? Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the techniques employers in the manufacturing sector can use to help build the skilled workforces of the future.

What Happened To Manufacturing?

The number of properly-staffed manufacturing jobs in the US was on the decline even before the Coronavirus pandemic became a cause for concern. Now, in the shadow of COVID-19, the economy and job numbers have been in greater flux. While the economy-at-large has seen some cautiously optimistic good news through the ups and downs, manufacturing, on the other hand, hasn’t seen quite the same level of rebound yet.

Job openings still greatly outclass new hires, according to BLS workforce statistics, and it all begs the question: how will manufacturing businesses turn things around? There’s no one strategy that can help correct the course, but a combination of strategies may help turn the tide on manufacturing jobs in the United States, as we’ll explore in our next section.

Developing A Strong Manufacturing Sector

One thing that most experts agree on is the need to bolster apprenticeship programs and start showing young men and women how exciting careers within manufacturing can be. There’s a perception that trade jobs are somehow unfulfilling and undesirable, but if future generations could see manufacturing in a different light, they might find that it’s the right path for them.

Fighting stereotypes like this means showing off the cool stuff. The EDM machines, CNC for aerospace applications, the creation of some of the most essential components our society needs to function—these are the images that can change the minds of future generations and get them used to the idea that a career in manufacturing can be worthwhile.

And it’s not just younger generations that may be persuaded to come into the manufacturing trades. Extending apprenticeships and reskilling programs across the board may provide additional support needed to replenish the number of skilled workers, if they’ve got the talent.

All this should be carried out hand-in-hand with sensible reshoring initiatives. There’s already a push to bring previously outsourced jobs back to domestic lands, and there’s some data to suggest that these efforts have been paying their proverbial dividends:

“Despite COVID, reshoring numbers were up in 2020. Reshoring and foreign direct investment (FDI) job announcements for 2020 were 160,649, bringing the total jobs announced since 2010 to over 1 million (1,057,054). Also of significant importance, reshoring exceeded FDI by nearly 100%, the first beat for reshoring since 2013.”

Combined, these factors should help American manufacturing see a comeback, and lessen the stigmas and stereotypes that have traditionally prevented individuals from seeking work in what is, in actuality, a thrilling and exciting industry in which to make a lifelong career.

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