Survey Reveals Manufacturing Industry Struggles to Keep Millennials Informed About Career Opportunities

If you’re a member of the Baby Boomer generation or Generation X, chances are you have a markedly different view of the U.S. manufacturing industry than Millennials.  

A recent Manufacturing Index survey by Leading2Lean, a manufacturing software technology company and creator of CloudDISPATCH software, found that generation significantly affected how Americans view manufacturing careers, the role of manufacturing in the U.S. economy, and the industry’s growth.

Respondents were asked if they agreed or disagreed that manufacturing jobs are important to the U.S. economy. Older generations, particularly those born between 1946 and 1964 (Baby Boomers), and those born between 1965 and 1980 (Generation X), appeared better informed about the significance of these jobs to the U.S.

Eighty-six percent of Baby Boomers and Gen X respondents agreed that manufacturing jobs are important to the economy, while only 68% of Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1998, agreed.

“We were surprised by how the responses varied by generation,” said Keith Barr, CEO and President of Leading2Lean. “We are seeing some of the highest demand for skilled manufacturing jobs in recent history, yet it seems the industry has failed to keep younger generations informed about the skills gap or availability of great jobs.”

This difference in generational perspective was also reflected in a question about whether respondents agreed that manufacturing offers fulfilling careers. Only 49% of Millennials agreed, while 59% of both Baby Boomers and Generation X agreed. This underscores that Millennials are less convinced that manufacturing offers desirable career paths.

It is estimated that approximately 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next ten years, and 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled, according to recent data from The Manufacturing Institute. Despite this urgent industry need, half of Millennials indicated that they do not believe there is a shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. In comparison, 63% of Gen X and 60% of Baby Boomers indicated that they did understand there is a current shortage of skilled workers.

“We see from this data that we need to do better as an industry to show the younger generation how the industry has changed,” said Barr. “Manufacturing is more dynamic than ever before. Jobs in the industry involve complex problem solving and interesting technology. They’re not mind-numbing jobs that take place at dilapidated factories. And they offer competitive pay, benefits and opportunities for advancement.”

Millennials may not be aware that manufacturing jobs pay on average nearly three times the federal minimum wage for production and nonsupervisory employees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For managerial roles, manufacturing offers pay competitive with tech sector jobs, according to 2018 data from Glassdoor.

As part of the Leading2Lean Manufacturing Index survey series, Leading2Lean seeks to measure and report on the American public’s perception of manufacturing in the U.S. by looking at key metrics and tracking trends over time so, as the manufacturing sector evolves, the public’s understanding of it can be assessed. Leading2Lean commissioned survey provider ENGINE to conduct the national survey at a 95% confidence level, surveying 1,002 respondents representative of U.S. demographics.

To view the results of the survey, please visit www.leading2lean.com/leading2lean-manufacturing-index/. To learn more about Leading2Lean, please visit www.Leading2Lean.com.  


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