Changing the face of manufacturing for a new generation

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) launched a new effort to update public perception of manufacturing. The organization hopes to give industry a sleek, modern and technologically innovative portrayal by launching the D.A.T.A. Policy Center – which stands for "Driving the Agenda for Technology Advancement." The center will emphasize the role manufacturing plays in technological development, as research and advances are not limited to the factory.

"Manufacturers invest more in research and development and hold more patents than all other domestic industrial sectors combined," said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. "Their expertise and experience are critical to any technology debate, and the NAM is proud to provide this new platform to amplify manufacturers' voice."

Manufacturing's 'image problem'
It may be the hopes of manufacturers that promoting a sleeker perception of industry will attract young workers. The coming retirement of baby boomers will leave the manufacturing industry with severe labor shortages, according to CNN Money. Many companies are scouting for young workers to fill skilled positions, but finding it difficult to attract them to the field.

"Manufacturing has an image problem," says Paul Gerbino, head of an industrial-supply trade publisher ThomasNet News. "People think of it as dirty, dark, and low-paying."

As a result, many young people skip manufacturing altogether when they begin a job search. The reality of manufacturing, however, could not be further from the stereotype, according to Gerbino. Many workers utilize sophisticated technology on the job and employers offer high pay, with salaries starting at $50,000 or more and increasing to more than $100,000 for some experienced technicians and engineers, according to CNN. Furthermore, many job openings involve sales, marketing or management positions, which are distinct from labor positions on the factory floor.

With one of it's goals being to develop proactive content, the launching of the D.A.T.A. Center might be an attempt to attract young workers. According to Gerbino, an "image makeover" will be necessary to appropriately replace the baby boomer workforce. A image of cutting-edge technological innovation could be what does the trick.

In the meantime, manufacturers may find having to cope with shortages of skilled workers. Many will turn to technical recruiters to search the existing labor pool for experienced workers. Recruiters can streamline the searching and hiring processes, making them a vital tool for manufacturers until labor interest catches up with demand.