Posted on May 30, 2016, www.isa.org, authored by Joel Don, ISA’s community manager
There’s plenty of concern about the retiring generation of industrial professionals and the potential shortage of skilled workers needed to fill new jobs created by revolutionary advances in automation and manufacturing technology. Industry leaders remain hyper-focused on the challenges of encouraging high school and college students to pursue industrial careers. But according to a new survey, businesses and organizations that are promoting great careers in industrial automation and manufacturing to young people probably should spend more time reaching out to their parents.
According to the report, parents are not altogether current on the significant career opportunities in manufacturing and they may not be aware of innovations in automation and robotics that have transformed the modern industrial facility into a technological marvel. The research was conducted by SME, a non-profit organization that promotes advanced manufacturing technology and initiatives designed to advance new generations of highly skilled engineers and technicians.
Though most production facilities use advanced technologies and are staffed by employees with specialty training, parents nevertheless perceive the factory floor as “dirty, dark or dangerous” and the manufacturing industry in general as a poor career choice, notes Jeffrey Krause, CEO of SME.
SME enlisted an independent survey company to research the views of 577 U.S. respondents who self-identified as parents of college or school-aged children. Most families (70 percent) reported students currently in college or pre-college (grades 9-12). About 63 percent of the respondents were female. The survey sample covered a wide range of reported family incomes and every region of the country. The margin of error was 5.9 percent
Perhaps the most revealing metric from the survey is that a majority (83 percent) reported no family members work in manufacturing or a trade. That’s a significant factor, suggesting the industrial community must address public relations and education hurdles on the path to attracting young people to manufacturing and related industrial careers.
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