Short for National Manufacturing Day and the brainchild of the Manufacturing Institute, MFG Day has become an industry-wide holiday of sorts, highlighting the promise, importance, and excitement of careers in modern manufacturing. First held in 2012, festivities kick off the first Friday of October and include competitions, technology showcases, presentations, and more. This year MFG day falls on Friday, October 7th.
For more than a decade, Acme Corrugated Box has taken part in MFG Day in various capacities. This year, we are sponsoring events hosted by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center, or NEPIRC, and promoting events held virtually on October 14th by DVIRC (Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center).
“Acme Corrugated Box’s sponsorship has enabled NEPIRC to amplify our National Manufacturing Day message, expand our MFG Day programs, and provide free and reduced-admission attendance to high school and college students – thus availing them to more information about the great careers available with manufacturers across our region,” says Eric Esoda, President and CEO of NEPIRC.
Onsite at Acme Corrugated Box, we observe MFG Day every day through our relationship with Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School. We are one of 95+ Cristo Rey Work-Study Job Partners – companies that support students by providing tuition scholarships in exchange for work study. Our relationship with Cristo Rey is just one of several ongoing in-house initiatives designed to diversify and strengthen tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce. Through our relationships with Penn State University and Temple University, Acme Corrugated Box hosts two industrial engineering interns each summer. Even more, we hope to resume our own onsite MFG Day activities, interrupted by COVID and by our facility expansion, in 2023.
Why MFG Day Matters
For all the fun that MFG Day offers, there are sobering reasons why Acme Corrugated Box and our industry partners and peers are working hard to draw attention to manufacturing’s value and benefits for employees.
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic revealed widespread worker shortages, manufacturing was already feeling the pinch. Even today, despite awareness initiatives like MFG Day, manufacturing is among the industries hardest hit by mounting labor shortages. Case in point: Even if every qualified and unemployed candidate applied, received, and accepted a manufacturing a job today, a mere 65% of the industry’s vacant roles would be filled. A lot of factors have contributed to this shortage. Many businesses and schools cut their apprenticeship programs in the 1980s. At the same time, college > trade school perceptions were mounting – a stigma from which the field is still recovering.
“When most people outside of the industry think about manufacturing, they most commonly picture large factories,” says Esoda, who has held many positions during his tenure at NEPIRC. “They may recollect their parents’ or even grandparents’ stories of the old steel mill or the cut and sew shop.”
While those legacies are part of the manufacturing heritage, and a rich part of Pennsylvania’s history – many of those narratives are no longer accurate, according to the NEPIRC President.
The Times Are on Our Side
Today, though, manufacturing is experiencing a reputational upswing. In the face of labor shortages, manufacturing salaries are up. Compared to traditional four-year college educations, barrier to entry is minimal, and less costly. Manufacturing employees are unlikely to incur steep student loan debt, if any loan debt at all.
“Today’s manufacturers, in Pennsylvania and across the United States, are high-tech, employee-friendly firms that operate more cleanly, safely and consistently than ever before,” says Esoda.
Then there’s the fact that the field is growing. As a term, manufacturing describes 28 different industries including pharmaceutical, biotech, and food and beverage – all industries on the rise.
Even more, automation is making manufacturing more dependent on technology and artificial intelligence and less dependent on physical labor – more proof that manufacturing is so much more than “dirty jobs.”
Esoda’s optimism about the future of the industry and MFG Day is invigorating, “National Manufacturing Day highlights more than just what goes on within the four walls of small and mid-sized manufacturers – it gets people talking about how other businesses also benefit from a strong manufacturing economy.”
We are equally excited by what’s bound to happen on MFG Day 2022 as a younger generation of Americans – and many adults – recognize the potential of careers at places like Acme Corrugated Box.
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