This could be the day that sets someone on the path to a great career in precision machining. What are you doing to promote manufacturing in your area?
At PMPA, we have the privilege of seeing different approaches to training around the country and around the world. We have seen apprenticeship programs at factories in Germany and China, Switzerland and France. In the U.S. we have visited many community colleges and other training providers, and we sponsor the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS).
PMPA has an educational foundation to help with training costs for those looking to gain or improve their machining skills with training. Since 2004, the PMPA Education Foundation has awarded $165,000 in grants to companies, schools and individuals in support of industry training programs.
In this country, we do not have a strong model of government-certified apprenticeship standards; nor do we have a culture that is aware of manufacturing as a career path and rewarding way to make a living. High schools continue to push out “college prep” graduates as if the economy will be satisfied by this one-graduate-fits-all approach.
Meanwhile, shops are desperately looking for skilled workers. As the baby boomers that we rely on approach retirement, even more openings for skilled workers will need to be filled.
We cannot eliminate the skilled worker shortage overnight. But we can start the journey of developing a local pipeline of talent. The first step just might be hosting an open house for the families and friends of current employees, and maybe some community officials, teachers and school counselors. The high-technology, high-skill world that is our day-to-day workplace is unknown to our friends and neighbors. They think that manufacturing is dirty, dark and boring jobs, not holding tolerances that are a fifth of the thickness of a sheet of paper, or that what we make truly looks like jewelry, as well as performs some critical function for human safety.
As an industry, we need to change the perception of manufacturing in our culture. As business owners and managers, we need to change the perception in our towns and take steps to get a manufacturing career back into the thinking of our friends, neighbors and school officials. We know that we have great career openings available right now, and will for the foreseeable future.
Holding an open house on Manufacturing Day so people can see the “gee whiz!” magic that your talented craftsmen (their dads, grandfathers, uncles and neighbors) perform daily will help us change the perception of manufacturing. It just might be the start of an inspired career for one of your next employees.
Let’s show our neighbors what good neighbors our companies are. Let’s show them how well-lit and tidy real manufacturing plants can be. And let’s show them the pride of our craft, of making things that make a difference in the quality of life for all of us.
Manufacturing Day is Friday, October 4. I hope that you have an open house or virtual tour and invite reporters, elected officials, members of the school board and school counselors to come see what your shop offers your community. We’re the people who make things. And careers are one of the unspoken but more important things that we make. Who knew?