When I was eighteen, I joined the United Auto Workers Local 677 to earn money for college. I wore a hard hat, safety goggles and steel-toed shoes and was paid three times more than the current minimum wage.
Coming home sweaty, smelly— and if I worked on the axel line, covered in grease —was well worth it. Manufacturing paid very well.
It was on that Mack Truck assembly line that I saw the value of teamwork—what I did or didn’t do directly affected my co-workers—something essential for every employee, in every type of work setting.
This important lesson stayed with me in the decades since, but so did my misconception that manufacturing is still a boring, dirty profession.
This all changed last year, when one of our clients, Aerotech, gave me a tour of their facilities. I was shocked. The place was clean and quiet. And, as they told me the tasks the workers performed, it became clear that this was a far cry from the repetitive work I did during my summer at Mack Trucks.
Apparently, more people would benefit from touring a modern manufacturing plant.
During a House Committee on Small Business hearing this past spring, Steve Chabot, chairman of the committee said, “This is not your grandfather’s or even your father’s industry anymore. It’s high-tech; it’s skills based; and it provides good jobs with good benefits that can provide for growing American families. We must do better job educating young people to improve the perception.”
Spending one summer in a plant obviously does not make me an expert in manufacturing. Yet I do know one easy way companies can improve the perception of manufacturing is via their website. A company controls the narrative on their website so great care should be spent making sure the photos and copy tell a compelling story.
According to the Pew Research Center, 68% of Americans in 2015 reported owning a smart phone. This means a large percentage of people—both potential customers and potential employees—visit a company’s website via their phone. If your website isn’t built to be viewed on a computer, a tablet and a phone, what type of message are you sending?
Another great way to change perceptions is to present facts.
SME, a professional association whose purpose is to advance manufacturing and attract future generations, created this powerful infographic to bust the myths surrounding working in manufacturing. These are great statistics to share with anyone exploring how they want to make a living.
If you want help in changing perceptions, learn more about manufacturing marketing services at Elliance.