8 ways manufacturing executives can advance the image of manufacturing

Photo by David Bohrer/National Assoc. of Manufacturers

By Craig Giffi and Michelle Drew Rodriguez

American public perception of manufacturing, and where Americans see the manufacturing sector is headed, is optimistic. That’s according to a recent study conducted by Deloitte, the National Association of Manufacturers, and The Manufacturing Institute.1

Indeed, it’s an exciting time for the industry, with such technologies as predictive analytics and the Internet of Things offering new insights and helping manufacturers get closer to their customers. But challenges do remain. Perhaps the highest hurdle is the need to attract top talent as the current workforce reaches retirement age and new technologies require a higher level of technical and problem-solving skills.

So how can manufacturing executives take the lead to improve the image of manufacturing and attract top talent? Here are eight recommendations:

  1. Spread the good news and dispel false impressions of the industry. Help make the US public more aware of the strengths of manufacturing by participating in events like Manufacturing DaySM. Or sponsor informative campaigns to help disseminate real facts about manufacturing, including that it offers the highest wages, longest tenure, and highest multiplier effect among all industries. Seek out opportunities to speak at local schools, offer facility tours, or get involved in appropriate student-focused organizations.
  2. Highlight top priorities that people seek in a career. The manufacturing industry offers good benefits, top pay, and jobs that are interesting and rewarding—characteristics that Americans rank at the top of their “ideal job” want list.
  3. Invest in the most appealing programs. Programs involving hands-on skills development and experiences would be well-received as activities to promote interest in manufacturing. Apprenticeships, internships, and certification-based training programs ranked high on the list.
  4. Create more awareness of events like Manufacturing Day. Over 90 percent of those attending Manufacturing Day events are more convinced that manufacturing offers interesting and rewarding careers, and over 80 percent are likely to tell others about a career in manufacturing. The problem? Only eight percent of Americans are aware of, or familiar with, the event. Consider sponsoring Manufacturing Day events in your community that involve students, educators, businesspeople, media, and politicians.
  5. Leverage segments with high interest and perception. Women, Americans familiar with manufacturing, and parents are among the groups with the most positive perceptions of manufacturing jobs. Use these segments as brand ambassadors to improve and increase perception among other audiences.
  6. Tap into the strong ties linking manufacturing and economic prosperity. Americans believe a strong manufacturing sector is essential to the nation, its economy, people, and national priorities. Manufacturers should do more to tap into the patriotic pride and satisfaction that “Made in the USA” brings to Americans.
  7. Tap into the strong ties linking manufacturing and economic prosperity. Americans believe a strong manufacturing sector is essential to the nation, its economy, people, and national priorities. Manufacturers should do more to tap into the patriotic pride and satisfaction that “Made in the USA” brings to Americans.
  8. Design initiatives that bring industry, government, and academia together. Manufacturing could benefit by bringing the various facets and stakeholders together, tapping into an environment that fosters innovation and creates more opportunities to attract top talent. There’s a need for a collaborative call to action by all key stakeholders to make manufacturing a destination of choice for fulfilling careers.

The future of manufacturing is bright, and elevating the image of the industry will help attract the best talent. And the best talent, in turn, will allow the sector to thrive, prosper, and compete on a global scale.

To get a more in-depth look of the findings, download the full report and infographic.


1A look ahead: How modern manufacturers can create positive perceptions with the US public,” Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s