On Manufacturing Day, a national celebration designed to inspire America’s next generation of makers, it’s important to share the facts – and dispel some myths – about manufacturing careers. As a local manufacturer, Worthington Industries is proud to be part of your community and proud of the hard-working men and women here and across the country who help drive the growth and success of this important part of the American economy.
Unfortunately, there is an outdated belief that U.S. manufacturing is in decline. It is in fact growing and offers an abundance of opportunities. Today, manufacturing jobs are increasing more quickly than at any time in nearly a quarter century. Between July 2017 and July 2018, U.S. manufacturing companies hired 327,000 new workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Since the end of the Great Recession, American manufacturers have hired an additional 1.3 million people.
These are typically well-paid, long-term opportunities. The average manufacturing worker in the United States earns more than $84,000 a year in salary and benefits, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. In addition, 92 percent of manufacturing employees were eligible for health insurance benefits in 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
These jobs are open to people with a wide range of education levels, starting with a high school degree or GED. We are seeing the manufacturing sector be more creative with job sharing or with shorter shifts aimed at moms and dads who may have time during the day while children are at school. There are also seasonal opportunities for part-time workers. Demand is especially strong for skilled positions such as machinists, welders and maintenance technicians. According to a recent report, 80 percent of manufacturers say they are experiencing a moderate to serious shortage of potential workers for skilled and highly skilled production positions. With continued growth and retirement of Baby Boomers, experts forecast that two million skilled manufacturing jobs will go unfilled by 2025.
There are many routes to gaining the skills needed for these jobs. For some people, the best option is to start out in an entry-level position that requires limited skills, then grow your career through on-the-job training and tuition reimbursement your employer may offer. In addition, career technical schools and community colleges often offer scholarships and work-study options so you can get the training you need while keeping costs low and minimizing debt.
Some people are reluctant to consider a manufacturing career because of outdated images that the jobs are repetitive and boring. In fact, today’s manufacturing workplace is not like the places where your grandfather or parents might have worked. Manufacturing jobs are incredibly diverse and challenging. The ability to think on your feet and solve problems is essential. Manufacturing is constantly changing and advancing with new technology and techniques, so there is always something new to learn.
Whether you are a high school student considering your career options, a mom getting ready to return to the workforce, or just looking for a better opportunity, manufacturing offers diverse, interesting jobs with good pay and benefits. There could not be a better time to get started.
Cathy M. Lyttle is SVP and Chief Human Resources Officer at Worthington Industries, a leading global diversified metals manufacturing company operating 84 facilities in 11 countries, including Amtrol in Warwick.