U.S. manufacturing suffers from an important image problem that undermines its competitiveness, according to a new survey released on July 13 by Deloitte, along with the Manufacturing Institute.
Only 50% of Americans think manufacturing jobs are interesting and less than 30% are likely to encourage their children to pursue a career.
However Americans have not yet given up hope on the industry and in fact are overwhelmingly optimistic for its future:
- 55% believe that sector can compete globally
- 81% that future manufacturing jobs will occur in safer and cleaner environments
- 64% believe the industry is high-tech
- 76% of respondents believe the U.S. needs a more strategic approach to develop manufacturing
While the future looks bright, much needs to be done to make sure that the public, including educators and those in a position to guide talent to the industry, understand the facts, the report concludes. For example, many people feel that the industry does not offer well-paid jobs. However, workers in the sector currently earn $20,000 more including pay and benefits, compared to employees in other industry. Manufacturing holds the highest average wages ($81,289) across all private sector industries and has one of the lowest turnover rates (2.3%).
The authors of the report believe that now is the time to fix this problem.
The American public’s perception of manufacturing may be at an inflection point. The good news is manufacturing clearly matters to many Americans, with the vast majority viewing U.S. manufacturing as crucial to America’s economic prosperity, standard of living, and national security. In the mind of the average American, though, many of the current perceptions of manufacturing haven’t kept pace with advances in the industry, leaving a gap between perceptions and reality in terms of critical factors such as job stability, pay, and benefits. Furthermore, many are not eager to encourage their children to pursue a career in the industry. Nonetheless, important and influential demographic groups, such as parents as well as those familiar with the industry, consider the manufacturing industry in higher regard.
To turn perceptions around the report offers the following steps that manufacturers, either individually or collectively, can take to actively create more positive perceptions about the industry.