As more and more Americans are losing faith in the value of a four-year degree after grappling with mounting student loan debt and unclear job prospects, manufacturers have the opportunity to show the broad range of careers in our sector that don’t include a large education price tag. Many manufacturing careers that come with family supporting wages are obtainable with a high school diploma and some form of postsecondary education, including an industry-recognized credential. Often, when paired with internships or apprenticeships, students can leave a community or technical college program with no debt and high enough earnings to support homeownership and more.
Modern manufacturing offers lifelong careers that include lifelong learning. As technology continues to change the way we do business, community and technical colleges will play a growing role in ensuring that manufacturers and the people they employ have the skills they need to remain globally competitive. The Institute sponsors the M-List, schools that have embedded industry-recognized credentials into their academic programs, ensuring that students will have skills and competencies that are in demand by employers. Employers can rest assured that students with these credentials have a standard set of skills they need to perform well on the job.
Students make their career decisions early, and events like MFG Day give students, their parents and teachers a firsthand look at the great careers in their community. States have seen such great success that many now celebrate Manufacturing Month throughout October to help encourage and promote all that manufacturing has to offer. Of students who participated in even a single MFG Day event in 2016, 64 percent said they were more motivated to pursue manufacturing careers.
As Americans, it’s time to start changing the dialogue around college and career success and value all jobs and all forms of learning rather than continuing the misleading claims that the only way to family supporting wages is with a four-year degree and white-collar work. There are around 400,000 open jobs in manufacturing today, and it’s expected that by 2025, there will be up to 2 million jobs companies are unable to fill because of the skills gap. To remain globally competitive today and in the future, manufacturers must compete for the best talent and make their case early for potential employees to choose a career in their industry.
In her role, Carolyn leads the Institute’s workforce efforts to close the skills gap and inspire all Americans to enter the U.S. manufacturing workforce, focusing on women, youth, and veterans. Carolyn steers the Institute’s initiatives and programs to educate the public on manufacturing careers, improve the quality of manufacturing education, engage, develop and retain key members of the workforce, and identify and document best practices. In addition, Carolyn drives the agenda for the Center for Manufacturing Research, which partners with leading consulting firms in the country. The Institute studies the critical issues facing manufacturing and then applies that research to develop and identify solutions that are implemented by companies, schools, governments, and organizations across the country.
Prior to joining the Institute, Carolyn was Senior Director of Tax Policy at the NAM beginning in 2011, where she was responsible for key portions of the NAM’s tax portfolio representing the manufacturing community on Capitol Hill and in the business community and working closely with the NAM membership. She served as the Director of Legislative and Government Affairs at the Telecommunications Industry Association, Manager of State and Federal Government Affairs for 3M Company, and in various positions on Capitol Hill including as Legislative Director for former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and as a senior legislative staff member for former U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY).
Carolyn is a graduate of Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania graduating with a B.A. in Political Science. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and three children.
Latest posts by Carolyn Lee (see all)
- Throwback Thursday: Twin Cities Manufacturers Come Together to Promote Women in Manufacturing - February 28, 2018
- 2017 Manufacturing Day Moments - November 30, 2017
- STEPping Up to Advance Women in the Workforce - October 24, 2017