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US opinion of manufacturing more favorable

July 27, 2017

In its latest survey of U.S. public perception of manufacturing, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that the majority of Americans surveyed (roughly 8 in 10) view manufacturing as vital to maintaining economic prosperity in the country, but less than 5 in 10 find those jobs interesting or secure, and less than 3 in 10 would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career. However, respondents also said they believe future manufacturing jobs will require high-tech skills, be clean, safe and more innovative. That opportunity to build on the positive perceptions already present and dispelling the myths surrounding manufacturing jobs are explored in A look ahead; How modern manufacturers can create positive perceptions with the US public. The authors note that with such findings, “manufacturers could benefit from uplifting current perceptions and tapping into the future vision in order to help attract talent, both young and old, to the industry.”

Attracting talent to manufacturing is difficult as the industry competes with “Silicon Valley tech giants as well as multinationals on a global scale,” the report says. It goes on to outline actions manufacturers can take to improve the perception of the industry, including:

  • Investing in programs directed toward skill development;
  • Raising awareness about the benefits of a manufacturing career and dispelling potentially false perceptions; and,
  • Tapping into more pro-manufacturing demographic groups like females, Gen Xers and parents, as strong recruiting targets and brand ambassadors of manufacturing.

Noting that between 2015-2025 more than 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed due to retirements and growth, the survey asked about perceptions of future manufacturing jobs. Respondents indicated that they believe those jobs will require a higher level of technical expertise and skill (88 percent), that they will be cleaner and safer (81 percent); require less manual labor (77 percent); be more innovative and require more problem-solving efforts (77 percent); be more creative, enabling greater imagination through the design, make and build process (74 percent); have a better work-life balance (67 percent); offer more opportunities for career progression (64 percent); and pay more than other jobs (51 percent).

And while respondents indicated they believe the industry is competitive, they also said more should be done to foster American manufacturing competitiveness and increase jobs in the U.S., with more than half agreeing or strongly agreeing that policy changes could help bolster American manufacturing competitiveness through a decrease in health care costs (86 percent); comprehensive energy policy to ensure energy availability and low costs (81 percent); education reform (80 percent); ensured long-term, stable funding for programs that spur innovation and advanced manufacturing (71 percent); and other incentives.

To create a more positive perception of the industry, the report outlines steps manufacturers can take that center on spreading positive messaging of the industry, such as dispelling false impressions, highlighting top priorities that people seek in a career, tapping into strong associations between manufacturing and economic prosperity, generating more awareness around state-of-the art advanced technologies that are critical to manufacturing, and designing collaborative initiatives that bring industry, government and academia together.

manufacturing, policy recommendations