On Oct. 4, and throughout the month of October, Missouri factories are opening their doors to high school students to showcase career pathways in the manufacturing industry.
The annual celebrations are part of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Dream it. Do it. nationwide initiative to inspire the next generation of makers and innovators.
Last year, nearly 7,000 Missouri students attended on-site tours, showcases and Q&As with employers. That number is expected to be even higher in 2019.
As the state affiliate for Dream It. Do It. in Missouri, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry facilitates the statewide initiative in partnership with Missouri Enterprise. Missouri Dream it. Do It. is one of the Missouri Chamber’s many workforce programs to raise awareness of skilled jobs in high-need industries and dispel the myth that modern manufacturing is dark, dirty and dangerous.
Manufacturing provides affordable career path alternatives that offer the chance to work on the cutting edge of technology. Two-year programs or industry certifications provide all the skills needed to enter the manufacturing workforce in well-paid positions. In 2017, the average U.S. manufacturing worker earned $84,832, including pay and benefits. In comparison, the average worker in all nonfarm industries earned $66,847.
However, manufacturers struggle to find employees. Preparing the workforce was identified as a key focus area in the Missouri Chamber Foundation’s Missouri2030 research, which uncovered that only 44 percent of Missouri employers are satisfied with our state’s availability of skilled workers. “People have told everyone for years that there will be no manufacturing jobs. Well, there are thousands of manufacturing jobs, paying good wages and nobody is ready to work,” one employer said in the Workforce2030 Report.
The demand for manufacturing workers is not merely anecdotal. NAM estimates that over the next decade, 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will be needed, but 2.4 million of those are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap.
“In many Missouri communities, manufacturers are the foundation of the local economy. And contrary to the myth, technological advancements have not replaced the need for a manufacturing workforce—rather, skilled workers such as engineers, machinists and technicians are in high demand,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “We’re proud to continue our annual Manufacturing Day efforts alongside the National Association of Manufacturers and Missouri Enterprise as one of the ways we are inspiring young Missourians to consider these valuable manufacturing careers.”
Since 2018, the Missouri Chamber has partnered with Missouri Enterprise to expand outreach to employers and schools across the state and grow Manufacturing Day participation.
“Manufacturing serves as the bedrock for nearly all other industries in the state. It’s success and future rely on this next generation of workers, which is what Manufacturing Day is all about. It is a rewarding feeling to see a student captivated at the notion that we make things in Missouri and that technology is often at the forefront of that production. This new generation wants to be a part of something special and know they are making a difference while working in careers where technology is at their fingertips,” said Dusty Cruise, president and CEO of Missouri Enterprise. “Our mission is to ensure manufacturing is here for generations to come and we are proud to partner with the Missouri Chamber to move manufacturing in Missouri forward.”
Learn more about Manufacturing Day at www.mochamber.com/mfgday, and follow the events of Oct. 4 at the hashtag #MFGDay on social media.