Manufacturing Day 2021:
Inspiring the Next Generation of Skilled Workers
On the first Friday of October, the Manufacturing USA network, along with industry, academic organizations and public entities, will celebrate Manufacturing Day. This annual observance aims to raise awareness about modern manufacturing with students, parents and the general public and showcase the career opportunities that exist for skilled workers.
There’s a pressing need for events like this. Studies show that manufacturers will need to fill four million jobs by 2030. However, more than half of those jobs could go unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers and misunderstandings about what manufacturing jobs really entail. Manufacturing Day exists to dispel those misconceptions and inspire the next generation of manufacturing professionals.
The theme of this year’s event is Creators Wanted, and Manufacturing Day partners will be holding a mixture of virtual and live events throughout the country.
Manufacturing in America by the Numbers
The manufacturing sector continues to be a powerhouse in the American economy. For last year’s event, the U.S. Census Bureau compiled data revealing the true impact of manufacturing work. Consider these facts:
- The manufacturing sector is the country’s fifth-largest employer, with 11.9 million employees.
- Manufacturing has a higher than average annual payroll per employee: $60,260 for manufacturing employees vs. $54,227 for the average employee.
- 60% of all export dollars ($902 billion) comes from manufacturing.
It’s easy to see why filling manufacturing jobs is critical when they help generate so much economic activity. But over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown why investing in American manufacturing is crucial for our financial and physical health.
COVID-19’s Impact on Manufacturing
If you’ve tried buying just about anything in the COVID era, you’ve probably encountered delays due to mysterious supply chain issues. As it turns out, the global supply chain is fragile. When the pandemic hit and many countries shut down their economies, demand cratered. After those economies began opening back up, and demand rebounded stronger than ever, the supply chain couldn’t keep up, and chaos ensued. These delays have led to dramatic price increases and shortages for everything from microprocessors to new cars, hampering America’s economic recovery.
Global supply chain issues are responsible for more than just consumer headaches. Early in the pandemic, they threatened the health and safety of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers. As COVID-19 raged throughout the world, American hospitals faced a severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) like N95 masks, gowns and sterile gloves. The vast majority of these products were manufactured overseas, and without local manufacturing resources, the healthcare industry was left to compete with other countries to procure increasingly limited supplies.
These ongoing supply chain issues have led many government leaders to rethink our domestic manufacturing capabilities. In February, President Joe Biden issued an executive order to foster more “resilient, diverse and secure supply chains to ensure [America’s] economic prosperity and national security.” These efforts require increased domestic production for critical and essential goods like “active pharmaceutical ingredients, semiconductors, critical minerals, and large-capacity batteries.”
By enacting Biden’s plan, America would be less reliant on foreign manufacturing and possess growing resilience from future global supply chain interruptions with more domestic manufacturing capabilities.
The Next Generation is More Important than Ever
Of course, America will have difficulty expanding our domestic manufacturing capacity when we’re already struggling to fill the existing demand for qualified workers. That’s why events like Manufacturing Day 2021 are so critical. By convincing the next generation of workers that manufacturing jobs are a viable career option that offers fulfilling work and good pay, we have an excellent chance of reshoring some of the manufacturing jobs that America lost during the second half of the twentieth century.
The pandemic revealed how manufacturing work impacts us all and that every American has a vested interest in increasing our domestic manufacturing capabilities. Columbia Steel is proud to be an American manufacturer. We’re doing everything we can to support events like Manufacturing Day while bringing along the next great generation of skilled workers.