I come from a manufacturing family. My dad works as a technician, servicing presses at a major commercial printer. My aunts and uncles all work for the same print company. My brothers are engineers for major heavy-industry and aerospace manufacturers. And then there's me. I've worked at the print factory every summer while in college and now cover manufacturing as an editor.
But outside my own family, most people I know don't work in manufacturing, nor do they seem to truly understand how important it is to our economy's revival.
So when I read a recent survey on the public's view of manufacturing, the results both surprised and encouraged me. I now have hope.
"Made in America? What the public thinks about manufacturing today" survey sponsored by New York-based consulting firm Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute of Washington, D.C., highlights the issues at hand with American manufacturing.
According to the survey, most of the general public believes that manufacturing is important to our nation's economy and that we have the right resources available to be competitive in a global marketplace. Respondents selected work ethic, a skilled workforce, and worker productivity as the three most important factors for competitiveness. The public views the federal government's business and trade policies and tax rates as a disadvantage to U.S. manufacturing's growth. I agree with all of this.
But many respondents, while recognizing manufacturing as vital to our economic prosperity, said they wouldn’t encourage their children to pursue a career in manufacturing. And negative stereotypes of dirty, unsafe conditions and grueling work deter young adults from considering a career in the industry.
But there's hope. Manufacturers recognize the need to do more to erase these negative stereotypes. Organizations like The Manufacturing Institute are also offering more training opportunities to boost the numbers of skilled workers; participants in its program can even receive college credit while training for highly skilled advanced manufacturing jobs.
The government needs to do more to help prevent further weakening of our manufacturing base, but with strong public backing and more awareness of the industry's plight, I'm optimistic that manufacturing's future is still bright.
Does your view match that of the general public's? Visit http://www.deloitte.com/us/mfgimageindex to view the survey.