How Manufacturing Can Attract Young Talent Again

(From Software Advice) -- When I was a kid, I went back and forth between wanting to become a Marine or a doctor. Although on my more adventurous days, I was set to become a rock star or professional wrestler like the ones on TV (I thought they were real). Clearly, my career aspirations were all over the place – but what never even crossed my mind was becoming a manufacturer. After nearly a year of covering the manufacturing software market for Software Advice, I’ve started to wonder why.

In my view, it seems like the twenty-something and younger crowd would sooner build farms on Zynga’s Farmville or plan the next great civilization on Sim City rather than actually make it happen. This doesn’t speak to everyone in my age group, but I certainly don’t have many peers dying to break into the manufacturing industry. We’re a generation that’s obsessed with being cool, and honestly manufacturing doesn’t seem very cool.

There is a caveat, of course, in that the manufacturing of ideas is still highly valued. Everyone is racing to make the next iPhone app or create the next online money mill like GroupOn. But these ideas aren’t really producing a product in the traditional sense. Instead they’re manufacturing a smart service.

It got me thinking – can we make manufacturing cool again? That is, what will it take to make young people seriously consider a career in manufacturing? I believe in order to make manufacturing an appealing career again we’ll need to:

  • Wash away the negative media images of manufacturing;
  • Alter the perception that manufacturing is dead in the United States; and,
  • Re-connect the youth with making things, on their terms.

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