Oct 5 2018 marks the return of Manufacturing Day, an event designed to bring high school students out of the classroom, and expose them to the opportunities manufacturing presents for their careers and education. By opening the doors of our facilities to students each year, manufacturers get to show off their technology, capability, and people, while helping to build the next generation of workers. Events like this can inspire students to be the future engineers, programmers, machinists, and even metrologists that our industry desperately needs.
This year over 2,000 events will take place across the US, Mexico, and Canada with a diverse set of companies and institutions including ABB, Cone Drive, Taylor Guitars, and Washtenaw Community College. From giants of industry, to community colleges, to smaller precision manufacturers, the wide range of participating companies
underlines the need and interest in an event like of this type. We are all aware of the challenges we face in manufacturing relating to talent development. As our workforce ages, and technology changes the landscape of needed skills, it becomes increasingly difficult to fill our ranks with staff that is equipped to meet the challenges ahead. Manufacturing Day, is one step in re-building a process to solve the workforce challenges of the future.
Over the last decades, manufacturing has gone from being a center point of career discussions, to an afterthought in our culture. Most people still think of dark, dirty, and dangerous factories when they think of manufacturing, if they think of it at all. The general public has very little perspective on modern manufacturing, never being exposed to the modern, flexible work spaces we all occupy , much less the technology of today. In this sense, manufacturing has a marketing problem.
We need to work on our branding, bringing awareness and understanding to the public that makes up not only the future talent for our workforce, but also the gatekeepers who guide this talent pipeline in their career decisions. The teachers, administrators, and most importantly parents, are just as important as the students in this process if we want to build a sustainable solution.
This year’s motto for #MFGDAY2018 is Open Doors, Open Minds and highlights this very concept. Opening our doors to the stakeholders in the talent process is the first step in changing perspectives, and building interest. Often we take for granted the technology, efficiency, and wow factor of what we do to make the products that make our up our lives. But when we open the door to a new audience, there is interest and excitement in what we in the industry might otherwise find mundane.
Scott Romain, Regional Sales Manager for Wenzel says, “Watching the students learn something new, that might be obvious to you, seeing their excitement in this process, is what makes Manufacturing Day exciting for me”.
In Oakland County Michigan, we are fortunate to have a strong team supporting us in the Oakland Schools Technical Campus . OSTC offers students an opportunity to do focused, hands on learning at the high school level, where they can build skills, prepare for higher education, or leave certified in certain jobs. Pairing this with active internships provides the students and local companies like Wenzel America, with the opportunity to start building a sustainable workforce for the future.
This year we have taken on our first intern from the OSTC Southwest Campus, in an effort to be an active participant in building solutions on the local level. Our goal in this is to develop a path for students to become Service Technicians or Application Engineers, providing us with talented, skilled staff to support our customers. What we found, is an energetic, passionate pool of students who bring abilities and ideas to the table that challenge our perceptions of what manufacturing can is and how we go to work.
It’s an exciting journey that can have far reaching affects for us as companies, and individuals. Manufacturing Day is a small step, but it is one worth taking in order to open minds to the possibilities of the future.