Closing the skills gap: How to get young people interested in manufacturing

By Nell Walker
Over 2,800 manufacturing events took place across the US on the 6th of October – Manufacturing Day – this year, with the occasion proving to be a hu...

Over 2,800 manufacturing events took place across the US on the 6th of October – Manufacturing Day – this year, with the occasion proving to be a huge success. The events are designed to be educational networking tools, and the hope within the industry is that they will help to close the manufacturing skills gap for younger people who may not have considered a career path in the manufacturing sector.

Shop Floor Automations (SFA), a supporter of Manufacturing Day, spoke to a handful of professionals about three ways to get children and young adults interested in manufacturing.


SFA talked with Jeremy Bout of Edge Factor about his network of manufacturing media content that combines his love of storytelling with a passion for CNC machining. The two combine to create educational and entertaining content that appeals to young people. Interviewed in February this year, Bout said:

“I can tell you that we are working with so many schools, communities, and other leaders in communities. If you weren’t already engaged with getting the next generation or the next pipeline of workers coming into your plant, you better be focused now. There was already a need before, but the need just got way deeper.”


Margo Turner of Power Minds spoke to SFA about apprenticeships; with experience in the education industry, she sees the true value of apprenticeships, and hopes that governments will become more involved.

“According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the [manufacturing] industry has the highest multiplier effect of any major economic sector. If agencies focused on developing one working apprentice for every four college students, it would equal five million new tradespeople in the workforce.

“These government-sponsored initiatives work best when they become tribal. By that, I mean involving a broad range of government and business stakeholders that come together to assess the challenge, deploy agile teams and co-create solutions. When developed and executed in a collaborative atmosphere, these programs will thrive from implementation to measured success.”

Opportunities for military veterans:

While the focus remains on filling that skills gap with freshly-graduated talent, SFA and manufacturing in general recognise the need to offer careers to military veterans. Organisations such as Workshops for Warriors (WFW) are working on this concept.

“What sets WFW apart from any other Veteran educational organization in the nation are the Nationally-recognized portable and stackable credentials our graduates have the opportunity to earn,” Hernán Luis Y Prado, WFW founder, told Shop Floor Automations in an interview the week before MFG Day. “These credentials are our graduates’ passport to financial freedom, anywhere in the world, for life.”


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