Dangerous. Dingy. Crude. Unskilled. That’s what loomed in the back of my mind about manufacturing when I accepted a film internship with Tremco, a manufacturer of commercial construction products. This was my first position after graduation, and I knew nothing about the company or industry except for my preconceived notions. Fast forward a year and a half and I’m now Tremco’s full-time Digital Media Specialist with a passion for expanding visibility into the world of manufacturing. What happened?
I’ve always loved the idea of being investigative and going behind- the-scenes of different projects. So while typically working out of our Cleveland office, I frequently ventured out to construction sites and manufacturing plants to capture video and photographs. It wasn’t until I stepped into these workers’ steel-toed boots and heard their firsthand accounts that I realized my misconceptions. Since then, the once unfamiliar manufacturing industry has opened a wealth of opportunities to me and it can do the same for other millennial job-seekers. Here are the 3 reasons to join the manufacturing industry and the 4 simple steps to get your foot in the door and secure yourself a profitable career.
1. INNOVATION AT ITS CORE
Manufacturing employees represent the full spectrum of educational background, race, gender, religion, and generation. This collection of diverse thinking catalyzes the latest technological advances, which propel manufacturing forward, as streamlined production and efficiency are the primary goal. Drones, robots, green technology, virtual reality and 3D printing are just a few of the emerging innovations in manufacturing which require people with an understanding of digital technology. Even if you don’t have a degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), most millennials have the experience with computers and basic technical understanding that can transfer to any manufacturing position. This is where you come in, my friends. Companies provide training on their specific processes, so if you’re curious and adaptable, you can be working on the cutting edge of technology!
2. A 2-MILLION-POSITION VOID
A study conducted by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte found that in the next decade, 3.4 million jobs in manufacturing will open to accommodate economic expansion and the retirement of the baby boomer generation. Of these jobs, an astounding 2 million jobs are predicted to go unfilled because of unskilled labor and low perception of the industry. I admit that the manufacturing industry is not for everyone. Facilities can be loud and dirty with large machinery and heavy lifting – not the Hollywood I had dreamed of – but I was comforted by the fact that they prioritize safety, often requiring hard hats, safety goggles, earplugs, steel-toed boots and intensive training. So what does this mean for you, a millennial in search of a job? This is your way in! 2 million paying jobs will be open for you. A viable career is just around the corner if you open your eyes to it.
3. LONG-TERM SECURITY
My father has made his living working in the same manufacturing plant for the last 30 years. I knew very little about his role, except that I couldn’t fathom being with a company or position my entire career. Millennials tend to thrive on new challenges and change, which is forcing companies to adapt and accommodate to retain new talent. Through multiple manufacturing facility tours in the last year, I was surprised to find a great deal of versatility in manufacturing. The industry encompasses virtually all the world’s goods — ranging from food and clothing to automobiles and computers– and there are positions in nearly every field. Marketing, sales, engineering, supply chain, and more. By engaging with the manufacturing industry, we can carve our own path, one far different than our parents’ and grandparents’, and secure our financial future, while giving ourselves the flexibility to expand into infinite other areas over the course of our careers.
So you have the interest and the need for a job, what’s next?
1. Take a tour. Call a local manufacturing plant who is hiring and ask to take a tour of the facility. Take note of the conditions and talk to employees to see if it would be a good fit. Overtime, odd hours, union benefits, and heavy lifting are just a few things to think about.
2. Consider alternative routes. Inquire about various positions and how your skills might fit with current openings. There are often internships, co-ops, and apprenticeships available to learn the industry, tools and machines before full-time employment.
3. Keep an open mind. Manufacturing is massive, so if you don’t like what you see at one facility, check out another to find your niche in this vast, ever-growing industry.
4. Seek out additional resources. Organizations like the Manufacturing Institute, Women in Manufacturing, Hiring our Heroes and countless more are championing the effort to recruit minorities and veterans to the industry. Reach out to them for insight and local opportunities.
The manufacturing industry is diverse, innovative, and provides financial stability and the opportunity to advance in a fast-moving field. But maybe you don’t know anything about manufacturing. I didn’t. I knew the stigmas about the industry and was doubtful of my potential for success. But I took a chance on Tremco, uncovered the truth and haven’t looked back since. Do the same, and jumpstart your career like I did. No matter where you are starting from, if you’re looking to start a career or make a career shift, there are attainable positions for you in manufacturing.