The Explore the New Manufacturing Program was created to help build a strong pipeline of talent and give young people a new perspective on the wide range of career opportunities that exist in manufacturing. The program also gives manufacturers a way to be involved with a manageable time commitment.
As times have changed, so has the manufacturing industry. IndustryWeek explains that the "lines between technology, business and manufacturing have been blurred almost completely." This results in a new form of the manufacturing industry combining science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As manufacturing progresses, there are some workforce challenges that need addressed.
The future of a skilled and trained workforce is just one challenge the industry faces. To keep up with the growing and evolving manufacturing industry, there needs to be a workforce with advanced skills and experience to keep it going. Unfilled positions impact the ability of manufacturers to meet customer demands, and growth is even more difficult without skilled workers. As the current workforce is aging, manufacturers need their experienced, older employees on which they rely. But when retirement rolls around, the need for qualified workers grows.
Skill requirements also are an issue. Many West Virginians are unemployed, but most do not have the skills needed to qualify for high-demand manufacturing positions. Students must be educated about the necessary skills and steps to take for a future in manufacturing.
Misconceptions are creating a problem for the future of the industry. While many consider it a second-tier career choice with little to no skill requirements, this is not the case. Manufacturing no longer consists solely of smokestacks, assembly lines and factories; it's innovative, working with new technologies to promote energy-efficiency and create new automotive, aircraft, 3-D printing, medicine and smartphone parts – just to name a few. And, most of the jobs pay well. According to the Washington Post, new-hire manufacturing jobs pay an average of 38 percent more than non-manufacturing jobs.
Exploring is just the beginning. There will always be misconceptions, but once students are introduced to today’s new manufacturing and the Explore the New Manufacturing program, these will help them experience the world of manufacturing firsthand and increase their desire to pursue a career in the industry.