MFG Day – short for Manufacturing Day – is officially held the first Friday of every October, but festivities last all month long. Organized by the Manufacturing Institute and celebrated nationwide, it’s designed to raise awareness of modern manufacturing careers through fun and educational events that show students, parents, and educators, all the field has to offer.
Acme Corrugated Box observes MFG Day on an ongoing basis through our relationship with Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, supporting students via tuition scholarships in exchange for work study. We are also a proud sponsor of NEPIRC (Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center) Manufacturing Day 2021: Manufacturing Best Practices Summit & Expo. This event was originally scheduled to take place on October 1st but has recently been postponed until May 6, 2022.
Organizations nationwide that support manufacturing businesses like ours also observe MFG Day. Acme Corrugated Box is fortunate to have the support of the DVIRC (Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center), holding its 10th annual Manufacturing Summit virtually on October 1st. We sat down with DVIRC Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Mark Basla, to talk about MFG Day’s importance, including its impact on careers and our larger world.
Mark, more and more manufacturers, and related organizations seem to be observing National Manufacturing Day in some way, shape, or form. Do you agree?
I do! In just a few years, MFG Day has really taken off. Companies are doing some very creative things to shed light on the work they do. Conducting question-and-answer sessions with industry leaders, running high-tech contests, and incorporating drone footage into certain programs, are just some of the exciting things being planned. It’s a great time!
Why is MFG Day important in 2021?
The demand for goods is incredibly high in the United States, and increased during COVID, when Americans were home and buying more. Consumer spending makes up 70% of our economy, yet manufacturers are struggling to find talent.
One main reason for this is outdated perceptions. Parents hear “manufacturing” and picture jobs that are dirty or undesirable. I was guilty of this. I never presented manufacturing careers as options to my kids. As a result, today’s students often don’t know manufacturing jobs exist. So awareness is a big goal of MFG Day.
MFG Day also gives us a chance to highlight how manufacturing jobs are dramatically evolving. With automation, manufacturing is rapidly becoming more dependent on technology and artificial intelligence than on physical labor. We’re going to see many more smart factories in the next decade, and skills needed yesterday aren’t going to be adequate. It’s a huge shift that’s resulting in major job demand. An estimated 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled in the next decade.
Are there any other misconceptions you see among students and parents – and even educators – when it comes to manufacturing careers?
Most people are surprised to hear how many different types of jobs are available in manufacturing – and they pay well and offer great security. They’re also surprised to learn that manufacturing is a term that is relevant among 28 different industries including pharmaceutical, biotech, and food and beverage. I find that explaining this to students helps them envision manufacturing careers a little more clearly and helps many realize there might be a place for them in the field.
How is DVIRC supporting its member businesses on MFG Day?
There are 5,000 manufacturers in our five-county region of southeastern Pennsylvania. We work hard to find out how they’re celebrating MFG Day, then do our absolute best to promote it. We also host our annual Manufacturing Summit. It’s virtual again this year because of COVID but will hopefully be held in-person again in 2022. The Manufacturing Summit is attended by students, their families, and industry leaders and employees that represent the entire manufacturing ecosystem. We refer to it as a “day of inspiration and education,” and I think it lives up to that description.
DVIRC is also heading up a “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” program that gives students production gear, sends them into regional manufacturing facilities – Martin Guitars in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, for example – and has them shoot and edit videos with the help of a media company. Students compete against their friends for awards; it’s a really great time.
Last but not least, we’re conducting a labor demand study to better understand the specific skills needed in manufacturing today and in the near future. This allows us to identify gaps in school curriculum, build some appropriate programs, and communicate with schools accordingly. Curriculum often lags behind workplace needs. It’s part of the reason so many students are graduating high school and four-year colleges but can’t find jobs. By better aligning education with industry realities, K-12 education becomes more readily transferable to careers and can even help some students avoid unnecessary schooling and associated costs.
Can you sum up why manufacturing jobs are important? How manufacturing ties back to people and communities?
Manufacturing is a vital sector of our modern economy. It not only anchors all other economic sectors, but it is also crucial for our national defense and security. Continuing to bring awareness through MFG Day will hopefully help increase and retain an American manufacturing labor force that is essential to our economic and national interests overall.
To see current job openings at Acme Corrugated Box Co., Inc., visit our Employment page.
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