By Diane Riley
Kondex Corporation

For many graduating students looking to enter the workforce, picking a career path follows a pattern similar to the way sports teams draft players. The job that meets most of their interests becomes the first-round pick, and all subsequent jobs take a step down the selection ladder.

At first glance, this seems like a sound process. But what’s dangerous about this scenario is overlooking many career paths that may be unknown or misperceived, yet meet or exceed job seekers’ interests and goals.

Manufacturing is one such career that’s sometimes labeled as undesirable due to perceptions carried over from past generations. However, the myths that manufacturing offers low pay, dark and dirty environments, and little challenge or technology couldn’t be further from the truth in today’s manufacturing facilities.

Manufacturing plays a crucial role in the U.S. economy, yet across the country there is a shortage of both interest and talent in filling many much-needed positions. According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), manufacturing alone makes up the ninth-largest economy in the world, and accounts for 12 percent of the U.S. GDP.

NAM also cites average U.S. manufacturing earnings exceed $77,000 per year for pay and benefits. Wisconsin’s Sixth Congressional District alone, which Kondex is proud to call home, ranks third in the nation for its manufacturing employment, reaching 80,000 jobs. But without the talent and resources to keep manufacturing growing, these numbers could quickly decline.

Safety, Comfort & Technology Play Large Role

The manufacturing environment has greatly improved from stereotypical perceptions. Safety, comfort, and technology play a large role in manufacturing productivity and profits. Production areas are well-lit, clean, climate-controlled, and technology is found throughout these facilities. From tablets and PCs used on plant floors, to advanced quality control devices and production equipment, manufacturing simply could not operate without technology in today’s fast-paced, continuous improvement culture.

With many career and cross-training options available, the myth of all manufacturing jobs being monotonous is also false. Highly skilled machinists, welders, mechanics, and quality assurance personnel are producing a variety of products while managing varying timelines and customer requirements. In addition, supporting engineering, project management, sales, and customer service positions continually seek out new innovations, designs, and process improvements. In short, there is never a dull moment in manufacturing.

Of all the manufacturing perceptions, the one that still holds true is also its greatest benefit: the pride that comes from being part of the team standing behind the Made in America labels. This sense of purpose and impact beyond corporate profits is one of the most sought-after qualities of new job seekers. Those of us influencing career decisions need to be mindful of the many opportunities and advantages manufacturing offers. Take a closer look at manufacturing, tour its businesses, and change perceptions. Together, we can advance manufacturing to a first-round draft pick.

October 2 Is Manufacturing Day

Manufacturing Day is set this year for October 2 and offers all manufacturers a great opportunity to promote manufacturing in their local communities.

Kondex Corporation is among those holding an event, which will include brief presentations by Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Congressman Glenn Grothman as well as a tour of the company's modern manufacturing facility. Attendees can also sign-up to support I Make America, the domestic public policy advocacy platform for AEM.

For more information on the Kondex event, please click here.