5 Common Misconceptions About the Manufacturing Industry

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Manufacturing is a broad term, and there are a lot of companies that fall under its umbrella doing some incredibly cool things. It’s worth diving into some of the main misconceptions associated with this line of work, and highlighting why it’s not only an interesting industry, but a promising career path as well.

  1.     Manufacturing Jobs are Low Paying

The average hourly pay for a manufacturing worker is much higher than most assume.  According to a 2015 study of 1,035 parents with children aged 6-17, 89% think the average hourly wage for manufacturing employees is between $7-$22 an hour. It is actually significantly higher…. $33. That is over 3x’s the average national minimum wage and beats out the average hourly wage of $21.

  1.    Hiring in Manufacturing is Not Selective

One of the biggest challenges hiring managers face in manufacturing is a lack of skilled talent. In fact, according to PlantServices, “[An estimated] 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled over the next decade due to manufacturers’ inability to find talent with the required skills.” This may be due to a generational stigma that the industry isn’t growing or doesn’t support advancement. A study by Kennametal showed that over 70 percent of adults would not recommend a job in manufacturing for their children. The truth is, the market as a whole continues to grow. There needs to be a shift in the way these opportunities are viewed.

  1. There isn’t job stability or growth opportunity in manufacturing

Tim Lawrence, Executive Director of SkillSoft USA noted, “Parents have some awareness about manufacturing careers, but there are still looming misconceptions about the robust, exciting prospects for their sons and daughters, especially as more than half of manufacturers see a shortage of manufacturing talent.” Parents did agree that education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is important, and these areas provide a strong foundation for a promising career in manufacturing. The challenge remains translating that to promising career paths within the industry.

  1.       Manufacturing is an “Old School” Industry

While it may be taking some manufacturers longer than others to adopt new technology, it is there for the taking, and there are exciting developments leading manufacturing into the future. 3D printing, for example, may still be seen as something out of a sci-fi film, but it’s alive and well in today’s manufacturing world.  In this process, each layer of an object is thinly printed out, until a full-blown product emerges… and 3D printing is only the tip of the iceberg. Developments in sensing and process control also enable manufacturers to closely monitor the production process, tracking everything from the time it takes from start to finish , to detecting minor shifts in conditions that could lead to process failure. Alerts can be sent to operators or even to a plant manager’s cell phone.  

  1.           Manufacturing Jobs are Unsafe

While it’s important to research a company’s safety rating and history prior to applying to a manufacturing job, measures like Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma are common practices that keep the majority of facilities safe. As you probably know, lean, or Toyotism (the original name credited to Toyota, who created the process) is a systematic method for the elimination of waste within a manufacturing system. While it’s been more of a side-effect, the lean process has helped safety in a number of ways. By eliminating unnecessary steps and streamlining their process via lean, manufacturers are able to better monitor potentially dangerous situations and in turn avoid them in the future.

Sonny Workman, a team lead who has been with Whirlpool for 29 years told BBC News, “The one thing that’s changed in my time is the focus on safety. In the past it was numbers, numbers, numbers and now it’s put safety first and the numbers will come. We want people to leave the plant as they came.” It is a growing trend that should please both employees and employers, as the safer a plant, the higher the safety rating it receives.

Despite what some may perceive, the manufacturing industry is alive and well in the US. While this is evident to hiring managers looking for skilled manufacturing workers, that simply isn’t the case with the general public. The stigma needs to go away. Perhaps, as new technologies grow in popularity and a new generation understands the opportunities available, a sea change can occur.

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If you’re looking for talented candidates in the manufacturing industry, Job Brokers has nearly 15 years of experience and networking to assist. Feel free to give us a call at (480) 374-7100. We look forward to helping you find culturally aligned talent