Why Manufacturing Day Matters

This article appeared in the June 2018 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

Manufacturers across the nation will open their doors on 10/5/18 to students, parents, teachers, community members, media and policymakers to showcase how integral modern manufacturing is to the local, national and global economy.

Launched in 2012, Manufacturing Day is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.

This day gives our nation’s manufacturers the opportunity to showcase the innovative and impactful work manufacturers do daily. Policy leaders and government officials visit manufacturing facilities to learn how important manufacturing is to local economies. Students and their parents, teachers and guidance counselors visit to discover career opportunities and see firsthand the skills and pride of our American manufacturing workforce.

Manufacturing Has an Image Problem

According to research published by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, only three out of 10 parents would encourage their kids to explore manufacturing careers. We can’t find, attract, or retain enough talent to meet our workforce needs. The research suggests that over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing employees will likely be needed, but 2 million positions are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap.

MFG Day is an opportunity to communicate to students, teachers and parents what it takes to launch a manufacturing career.

Why Does MFG Day Matter?

Research shows that personal experience plays a huge role in the career decisions of students — over 64 percent of students that participated in MFG Day indicated they were more motivated to pursue a career in manufacturing.

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting a Whirlpool facility. The event was hosted on a Saturday. The plant shut down the line and opened their doors to the community. This plant tour was very special because both my husband and my father-in-law worked on the line.

Along the way we talked to employees and what we heard in their voices was pride. We passed a collection of statements by employees telling us “Why Manufacturing Matters to Me” with answers like pride, family, friends and how it strengthens the community.

As a family, we walked the plant for over an hour. Near the end of the tour, both my husband and my father-in-law stood, proud to have been part of the team at one point in time.

It is by igniting this voice that we change the perception of manufacturing and manufacturing careers. We must engage our employees and share their stories.

The Challenge is Clear

Students must have greater opportunities presented to experience modern manufacturing — how technology, teamwork and creativity drive the industry. At the end of the tour, talk about your careers:

  1. How you recruit and hire
  2. What internships or apprenticeships you offer
  3. What skills you look for in an employee
  4. What is the career path to learn and grow

Don’t know where to start? Access best practices and resources below to support your efforts.


About the Author

Jennifer McNellyJennifer McNelly is president of 180 Skills, LLC. She may be reached at or 317-793-3373.

Premium Associate Member180 Skills is an MMA Premium Associate Member and has been a member of MMA since November 2017. Visit online: