This past October 7th was National Manufacturing Day, 2016. A day set aside as a celebration of modern manufacturing, meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Although Manufacturing Day officially occurs on the first Friday of October, I think that every day should be National Manufacturing Day.
Do you remember when you had shop class in Jr. High or High school? It was a chance to work with your hands and create something. And, it was a break from abstract book study and allowed you to work with materials and think outside the box. It also showed kids how an idea could become a commodity they could sell, and showed them that their ideas could become reality.
With US Manufacturing being the cornerstone of our economy…and around the globe for that matter, I think the time has come for us in the manufacturing business to start lobbying for the re-emergence of vocational training in our high school systems.
- Manufacturing supports more than 17.4 million jobs
- For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, $1.48 is put into the economy
- Nearly 12% of the nation’s GDP is from manufacturing
Viewing vocational programs as second rate is one of the most corrosive problems in education today. In the real world, our communities and economies depend on an enormous diversity of talents, roles and occupations. The work of electricians, carpenters, mechanics, engineers and even hair stylists is vital to the quality of all of our lives.
Due to standardized testing, our school’s priorities have shifted to focus on college readiness, and vocational programs have taken a back seat. I think this is doing a tremendous disservice to our kids and our economy.
Not everyone needs to go to college. In fact, almost 40% of the students who begin a 4 year college program don’t finish. With the mounting college debt crisis, and increasing skills gap in placing qualified people for manufacturing, I think it’s time for our society to change its views on college. And it is up to us in manufacturing to lead the charge. We need to encourage kids to make balanced career choices.
I think every day should be Manufacturing Day.