Signs of Progress

Monday, February 22, 2016

By SIte Selection Magazine

If manufacturing’s $2-trillion contribution to the US economy were a country, it would be the ninth-largest economy in the world, US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker told the nation on October 2, 2015 — the fourth annual National Manufacturing Day. Making things comprises 12 percent of US GDP.

But though 90 percent of the country believes manufacturing is important and the sector has added approximately 900,000 jobs since 2010, “only 37 percent of parents encourage their kids to pursue manufacturing careers, and only 18 percent see it as a top career choice,” she wrote. The end result? Eighty percent of manufacturers cannot find the skilled workers they need, and their efforts are hindered by a) the persistent public perception that careers in manufacturing are undesirable, and b) the lack of sufficient preparatory education.

That discrepancy is why Ed Youdell, president and CEO of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International (FMA), came up with the idea of a national Manufacturing Day as a way to bring together other organizations including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), The Manufacturing Institute (MI), and the National Institute of Standards & Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

The first one in 2012 involved events in 37 states, as some 240 manufacturers and 7,500 people showed up to celebrate the sector’s role as fabricator, innovator and employer. Over the three years since, events have popped up in Canada (where they celebrate Manufacturing Month), Puerto Rico, Mexico and the UK. In 2014 there were 1,679 events. 2015’s celebration included 2,598 planned events, reaching more than 400,000 participants.

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