I am the mother of two grown boys and spent the majority of my career in manufacturing. Therefore, I am writing this article as I would like manufacturing positioned for future generations of boys and girls that, like at least one my kids, was pretty undecided on a career path during high school.
There are many reasons why children should be encouraged to work in manufacturing, but in this article, I will sum it up to a few key ones:
Manufacturing careers offer a wealth of career advancement opportunities
In any manufacturing company, there are entry level careers such as technicians, operators and office positions. However, many young adults and their parents want to see a progression from that entry level job to careers with higher pay and responsibility. Manufacturing employees have just those opportunities for jobs like supervisory and management careers that provide a pathway for greater prosperity and responsibility, often within the same facility.
Manufacturing careers can help financially support a student through school
Manufacturing careers provide employment during off hours so students can attend classes during the day and then work at night on an off shift. Some manufacturers offer job-sharing, part-time employment or split shifts to allow workers to obtain an education and receive a salary to fund that education. This helps employees avoid student loan debt.
One degree or certificate can be applied to several manufacturing careers
Manufacturers don’t just hire machine operators and forklift drivers. They also need quality control inspectors, cybersecurity experts, programmers, sales and customer service people, and accountants. I graduated from college with an engineering degree, but during the course of my career, I worked in not only engineering roles, but in quality control, business development, software and program implementation, and management roles. This provided great exposure to various aspects of manufacturing and kept my career interesting and engaging, while leading to progressively greater pay as I gained expertise.
There are many opportunities to learn new (or advance current) skills in a manufacturing career
Many manufacturers, particularly in this time of low unemployment numbers, are upskilling their current employees (see my recent article on this trend). Manufacturers often send their employees out for training or bring subject matter experts in house to help their employees learn and grow. Many also offer tuition reimbursement to help employees who wish to obtain a degree or certificate in a new skill or skills pay for the education required to get that expertise.
Many manufacturing skills are transferable to other industries
If your son or daughter begins working in manufacturing, then decides that it isn’t the career for them or don’t like the company he is working for, many of the skills learned – problem solving, quality inspection, reporting, programming to name a few – are transferable to other careers. And, the skills obtained in one manufacturing job can lead to promotions and other opportunities with the same or other manufacturing firms as well.
There are international opportunities with many manufacturing jobs
If your son or daughter wishes to see the world, working for an international manufacturing company provides the opportunity for travel to and work in other countries. And, usually, overseas assignments lead to career advancement opportunities within those companies. See the world, earn a good living, and enjoy a promising career – I can’t think of better reasons to work in manufacturing for those with a little wanderlust!
There are so many more benefits for manufacturing careers, but, in my opinion, these would top the list if you are engaging your high school students in career conversations.