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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Liu

Conclusion : Guiding Philosophies for Building Tomorrow’s Manufacturing Workforce

How educators can portray the manufacturing sector in a relatable light for today’s youths.

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The most sustainable method to increase youth interest in manufacturing is to portray the field in its raw form. Many fear the topic will bore young students, but if educators successfully highlight manufacturing’s cutting-edge technology, economic significance, and global impact, the sector’s relevance to any learner skyrockets.


My interviews and personal experiences reveal that smaller rural schools are more likely to offer manufacturing curriculums than well-endowed urban schools. A school’s administration determines which courses to offer based on predicted student interest in various topics. Often, students who live in the same community belong to families involved in similar occupational sectors. The Career Academy in Martinsville, Virginia, exemplifies how a historically manufacturing-based community will work to guide members of the younger generation to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Contrarily, suburban schools assume that their students aspire to become lawyers, economists, or engineers, so those schools do bother offering manufacturing courses. However, educators should realize that manufacturing is a big field that can fulfill the career aspirations of any student.


Current-day manufacturing occupations encompass an umbrella of roles, not just those on the factory floor. Therefore, manufacturing curriculums should not only be taught to students who aspire to be machine operators or fabricators. Every student in America should have a holistic understanding of the manufacturing sector. For example, they should know how supply chains are structured and be aware of the ongoing fourth Industrial Revolution–in addition to gaining hands-on practice with CNC machines and fabricators. Students will begin to recognize that manufacturing is a cross-sector career field, overlapping STEM, economics, and corporate management. Many youths may realize that many jobs they initially thought were unrelated to manufacturing are vital to the sector. Aspiring computer scientists realize how software powers cutting-edge equipment, aspiring economists realize how trend predictions and market data keep manufacturers competitive, and aspiring executives realize that the stable operation of a single factory affects the economy of an entire country.

Aspiring computer scientists realize how software powers cutting-edge equipment, aspiring economists realize how trend predictions and market data keep manufacturers competitive, and aspiring executives realize that the stable operation of a single factory affects the economy of an entire country.

Educators should capitalize on the skills many of today’s youth are already learning by relating those skills to manufacturing. Presently, many youths acquire manufacturing-related skills but do not apply them in a manufacturing context. For example, VEX Robotics administers major robotics competitions to get youth more engaged in programming and hardware—an individual familiar with either of those concepts is highly valuable to the manufacturing sector. Within a VEX competition, participants work to complete various challenges using robots they constructed. The challenge winners are often the teams whose robots pick up, transport, and drop the most objects to a goal. However, one representative at the Automate Show 2022 raised an interesting question: winners may have won a trophy, but what real-world skills did they gain from the challenge? He frankly stated that as an employer, he would have to send them back into robotics training to become acquainted with real-world industrial robots that operate for 65,000 hours and last for a decade. If when first introducing skills to students, educators successfully describe the practical applications of those skills, employers would not have to re-teach, condensing the training process for everyone.


In addition, youths should realize how manufacturing relates to and supports their pre-existing passions. Establishing those connections is not difficult—the manufacturing sector is at the root of all human productivity and innovation. All material objects in the world, which also support intangible concepts like the Internet, were made through manufacturing. Many solutions proposed by popular youth-led activist movements are only possible with manufacturing. For example, a high schooler invested in saving the climate wants all Americans to switch from gasoline automobiles to electric vehicles and utilize solar energy. On a mass production scale, EVs and panels can only be made in factories. If youth realize that the solutions to the issues they are trying to solve could be enhanced with the advancement of manufacturing, they have a personal incentive to join the sector’s workforce.

If youth realize that the solutions to the issues they are trying to solve could be enhanced with the advancement of manufacturing, they have a personal incentive to join the sector’s workforce.
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