Industry Trends

It’s Time to Talk About the Misconceptions of Manufacturing

manufacturing myths

SME, an organization we recently mentioned in our post on the importance of STEM education, recently released survey results from parents nationwide on their views related to manufacturing careers. There are some pretty alarming results: parents do not have the most up-to-date information (or perspective) on manufacturing and its opportunities.

Some of the survey findings include:

  • More than 20 percent of parents surveyed view manufacturing as outdated and/or dirty work
  • Half of all respondents do not see manufacturing as exciting, challenging or engaging
  • Less than 40 percent of parents surveyed feel that manufacturing is a well-paying profession

Let’s take a look at the reality of things.

There are plenty of myths regarding manufacturing, the jobs available and the future of the industry sector. In fact, these myths are what drive people away from potentially rewarding careers in manufacturing.

SME did some research and dispelled many of these myths. Our industry is no longer a clichéd image of dirty, backbreaking, low-paying labor. Let’s look at it for what it is.

Manufacturing jobs require complex skills to operate machines and an understanding of how to maximize efficiency. Today’s manufacturing jobs require a different kind of skill. Engineering software and 3D design are attracting students interested in game design, medical devices and more. The best manufacturing workers are not just completing repetitive tasks, they’re thinking about how to improve a product’s design or improve overall efficiency.

Manufacturing work pays 20 percent more than full-time service-sector jobs. A century ago, manufacturing jobs were low-paying with few benefits. According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the average U.S. manufacturing worker makes $77,506. Hourly compensation is also 17 percent higher in manufacturing than any other industry.

Between medical compliance and cleanrooms, today’s manufacturing environments are some of the cleanest in the U.S. While manufacturing environments may once have been viewed as a dirty-work environment, manufacturing environments are required to meet strict industry standards. Today’s work environment is clean and safe with modern computer-controlled tools. In order to produce the highest quality products, the work environment and operating conditions have to be of the highest standard possible.

It’s not a lack of skilled workers, it’s the lack of awareness among job seekers about the rewards of manufacturing jobs. We often hear that America lacks the skilled workers to support a manufacturing renaissance. While 600,000 manufacturing jobs have gone unfilled, there is a mismatch between those able to perform factory work and those seeking these types of jobs. Between now and 2022, the manufacturing sector will need to fill 2.2 million openings — half of these will be for engineers and a number of job openings will be for new and emerging occupations.

Thanks to SME for conducting an important survey for our industry and for bringing these crucial misconceptions to the table. It’s time we take a fresh look at a growing industry that’s changing the future — for all of us.

What are your thoughts on manufacturing myths and common misconceptions? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Connect with us on Twitter @AppleRubber.