Millennials still not well informed about manufacturing

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Baby Boomers and Generation X have different views of the U.S. manufacturing industry than Millennials, and the difference is noteworthy.

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Manufacturers still struggle to inform Millennials about job opportunities and advancements in modern manufacturing, results from a recent survey show.

Baby Boomers and Generation X have different views of the U.S. manufacturing industry than Millennials, and the difference is noteworthy.

Manufacturing software technology company Leading2Lean commissioned a survey with more than 1,000 respondents that found that generation (age) significantly affects how Americans view manufacturing careers, the role of manufacturing in the U.S. economy, and the industry’s growth.

Asked if manufacturing jobs are important to the U.S. economy, 86% of Baby Boomers and Gen X respondents agreed, but only 68% of Millennials shared that opinion.

Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980), appeared better informed about the significance of these jobs to the U.S. than Millennials (born between 1981 and 1998).

“We were surprised by how the responses varied by generation,” says Keith Barr, Leading2Lean’s president and CEO. “We are seeing some of the highest demand for skilled manufacturing jobs in recent history, yet it seems the industry has failed to keep younger generations informed about the skills gap or availability of great jobs.”

According to data from The Manufacturing Institute, approximately 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be available in the next 10 years, but 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled. Yet half of Millennials in the survey don’t believe the U.S. has a shortage of skilled workers. In comparison, 63% of Gen X and 60% of Baby Boomers believe there is a shortage.

Does manufacturing offer fulfilling careers? Only 49% of Millennials said yes, while 59% of Baby Boomers and Generation X agreed.

The industry has made strides in educating high-school age and younger students about their options with annual Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY) open houses and other events, but still struggles with Millennials.

Interviewed for Aerospace Manufacturing and Design on what manufacturers can do better, Barr explains, “Millennials want to have an impact. They expect an environment that allows them access to information, the ability to collaborate, and visibility to management in solving problems.”

Barr says Millennials want employers to leverage the value of people, to engage them personally. They want a challenge, to innovate, to solve problems. They need information to feel empowered and to apply their intelligence to problems.

Barr notes that Millennials may not be aware that manufacturing jobs pay on-average nearly 3x the federal minimum wage for production and nonsupervisory employees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data from Glassdoor shows that for managerial roles, manufacturing offers pay competitive with tech-sector jobs.

“We need to do better as an industry to show the younger generation how the industry has changed,” Barr says. – Eric

To view the survey’s results, visit www.leading2lean.com/leading2lean-manufacturing-index/.