Lefty Loosy, Righty Tighty: How To Educate and Influence The Youth To Pursue Hands-On & Well-Paid Manufacturing Jobs
During my childhood I spent time on the big rig machines with my father, laid hands on my first camera at the age of 9 and opened up my very own toolbox shortly after. The “Do It Yourself” mentality was an actual lifestyle rather than just a tagline for Home Depot.
Today, kids spend more time with smart phones in their hands playing angry birds than they do building treehouses. Unfortunately I don’t have much research to back up this ‘generalization’, however:
In the last 25 years, schools have eliminated all their shop courses. Where would our kids learn manual skills? When was the last time you met a kid who built a treehouse? That’s where all these skills start. You build something or fix a bike, then you fix a car or build a boat.”
The Problem Is The Perception of Industrial Manufacturing Jobs
Western Civilization is based on one’s ability to put a nut and bolt together but manufacturing is just not “sexy” anymore. A 2009 research of American teens revealed that more than half had little or no interest in a manufacturing career. Another 21 percent were ambivalent. Here’s a snapshot of the point of view shared by the youth and their parents:
- It’s a failure if you don’t send your kids to college
- If you don’t study you will end up working in a factory
Industrial manufacturing is the backbone of American society and the last thing we want to do is cut shop courses from study curriculums and engrain the belief that these types of jobs are not worthy.
It is not in the interest of the industrial manufacturing society to convince our youth not to pursue higher education in order to increase the labor force for our factories, steel mills and power plants. Actually, the ultimate goal is to shine light on the opportunity of such a career in this field and to do so through teaching, workshops and revealing the truth.
The overall trend is that factories are having trouble finding electricians and other skilled trades people without a steady influx of young people.
Craig McAtee, interim vice president of advanced manufacturing at Cuyahoga Community College remarks on the specifics of the jobs:
These jobs aren’t the semi-skilled positions that fled the U.S. for China or Mexico over the past couple decades, but are what I call “gold collar” jobs, where workers use computerized machines and welding torches that require deft touches. And they can pay $50,000 to $60,000 a year.
How did the fast food chains of the nation stand up against the criticism they received for their contribution to high obesity rates? They added yogurts and salads to the menu as an alternative to the greasy burgers.
Likewise, industrial manufacturing needs to direct our youths attention to the benefits these jobs offer and the type of work they include.
A major player in shaping the future of industrial manufacturing is John Ratzenberger, the Co-founder of Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs.
The mission of the Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs foundation is to engage, nurture and excite individuals of all ages to pursue careers in manufacturing.
Kids can attend summer camps and earn scholarships to programs like the Introduction to Manufacturing Concepts through electric guitar building or GADgET (Girls Adventuring in Design, Engineering & Technology).
There is a factory behind every business and hard working people behind every machine and piece of equipment.
As an industrial photographer, my favorite piece of equipment so happens to be a camera that I use to create visual images designed to educate, communicate and sell. Whether you’re in need of an all inclusive photo shoot of a factory or want to partner up to help raise awareness of and influence the future of industrial manufacturing, please contact me.
While we’re on the topic, I will be visiting EWI in Columbus, Ohio for the newly celebrated and most anticipated holiday, Manufacturing Day on October 4th 2013. EWI specializes in aerospace, automotive, government/defense, heavy manufacturing, consumer products and light industrial energy. As of today there are 454 events planned for which companies and factory facilities will open their doors for different types of tours with the purpose to expand knowledge about and improve general public perception of manufacturing careers and manufacturing’s value to the U.S. economy.