If Hoosiers are known for anything, it’s how to make stuff. Sure, we farm, we heal, and we teach. But when it comes to manufacturing, Indiana is a superpower by all accounts. Indiana leads the country by share of employment for manufacturing jobs, with one out of every five workers employed by the industry. And since those jobs pay 40 percent more than the state’s average income, we’d like to keep them in our state.
In order to do so, young Hoosiers who love working with their hands and solving complex problems have to be introduced to the industry and all its grandeur.
According to an AFL-CIO report by its Department of Professional Employees, between 2004 and 2013 there was a 19 percent decline in 18-35 year-olds employed in manufacturing occupations. At the same time, occupations in retail and the restaurant industry saw an increase. A big obstacle to increasing interest in manufacturing among our youth is that the industry has an image problem.
There is an antiquated notion of manufacturing as dirty, dangerous and dull -- a notion that we must dispel. And if manufacturing is going to continue to be a dominant force in Indiana, the next generation must help to dispel those myths among their peers!
Back to School
Recently, I visited the New Tech Academy at Wayne High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and met with Mr. Haddad’s Financial Planning class – A.K.A. Life 101. Life 101 is designed to help students think as citizens, taxpayers, workers, and entrepreneurs; to analyze micro- and macro-economic data and trends; develop resumes; and learn financial planning strategies to define and implement their own financial goals.
I shared with them the many advantages to working in the manufacturing industry: good wages, fringe benefits, on-the-job training programs or tuition assistance for college, the ability to create something marvelous out of unrecognizable pieces and parts, and the opportunity to solve complex problems. Armed with this new knowledge of the industry (and an audio recording device), two teams set out to promote manufacturing careers to their peers in 30-second radio spots.
Team 1 focused on the longevity of manufacturing and its benefits to the community, explaining, “manufacturing jobs turn into hard-working careers and not only help the economy, but the livelihoods of others.” They brought it home for the Hoosier state with the tag line, “Indiana is number one; let’s keep it that way.”
Team 2 explained what manufacturing sectors Indiana leads in, like chemical, electric-car, and hybrid-motor manufacturing. They also shared the advantages of increased wages and benefits for those working in manufacturing and summed it up by saying, “these are just a few of the reasons why manufacturing is good for Indiana and good for you.”
AAM applauds Mr. Haddad’s class for helping to promote such an important segment of the Indiana economy, and were proud to present them with our “Champions of Manufacturing” award.
If your high school class has ideas on how to encourage young people to consider a career in manufacturing, let us know. After all, the future is in your hands.