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 careers in manufacturing 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 first-hand look at the great careers in their community. States have seen such great success that many now celebrate Manufacturing Month throughout the month of 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% said they were more motivated to pursue careers in manufacturing.
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.
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