MFG Advocate …

School’s back in session – got plans for #MFGDay15?

By  Penny Brown, Public Affairs Director

Kids are shuffling their feet while parents have a newfound spring in their step. Across the country, it means the same thing everywhere: School is back in session.

But why should educators and students settle for the normal classroom drudgery this fall? One of the better ways to reach kids is to show them real-world applications for what they learn in the classroom. That is the spirit of MFG Day – a day in which we demonstrate to kids the possibilities for their future and the opportunities they can have by pursuing a career in manufacturing.

MFG Day 2015 takes place on October 2. It’s a day when manufacturers open their doors to highlight what they do and inspire a future generation of manufacturing’s smartforce. It’s the industry’s best possible marketing opportunity to show what we are – and maybe more importantly, what we aren’t. This real-world connection is crucial for winning over the hearts and minds of kids (and parents and teachers) who have the wrong perceptions about manufacturing: that it isn’t stimulating work, that it doesn’t pay well, that it’s low-skilled or low-tech. 

This year, there are nearly 700 events planned around the country and counting. AMT’s Smartforce crew will be making the rounds in Indiana and Ohio with the always-popular Rally Fighter. There are five different types of events recommended for MFG Day, many of which are suitable for AMT member participation: plant tours, manufacturing community events and expos, job fairs, educational fairs, and celebrations of the manufacturing community.

Plant tours are straightforward and perhaps the easiest way for manufacturers to interact with students. It’s a great way to show what you’re all about – the products you create, the people working there, the types of technology you use, and the necessary employee skills. But this type of event is also most likely to attract the folks who are already interested in manufacturing. Getting involved with events outside your factory walls is just as important to reaching a whole new audience. So, let’s consider a few of the others:

Community event: Are you located near other manufacturers? Would you consider pooling your efforts to create a more well-rounded event? This could include a series of plant tours, which is a great way to show students different types of manufacturing and the range of different work environments – another important point to show that manufacturing isn’t the “same thing everywhere.”

Job fair: It’s likely that job and career expos are taking place in your community on a regular basis, hosted by different entities and focused on different industries. Even if one isn’t happening on MFG Day in your area, have you considered this as part of your recruiting efforts? Would you consider hosting one with some of your fellow area manufacturing firms?

Educational fairs: If you want to reach students directly, then this is where it’s at. Many community and technical colleges have been beefing up their manufacturing curriculum, and the prospective students coming through need to know what’s waiting for them on the other side of that degree. These events also tend to attract a good number of parents, another important audience to reach.

Celebrations: These events are often organized by regional manufacturing associations or economic development groups. They might include a breakfast or barbecue. While building up our talent pipeline is a serious business, who’s to say you can’t have some fun with it along the way? 

So how do you find all of this good stuff? Take some time to visit to get the scoop on what’s happening in your community. If you haven’t started making plans to participate, it’s not too late. We can’t wait for someone else to come up with an answer to our industry’s skills gap. It’s a solution that starts with us.
What are you doing for MFG Day? Drop me a line at