Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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From the editor: Inspiring youth on Manufacturing Day and beyond


January 26, 2016
By Alyssa Dalton


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Dec. 11, 2015 – October 2 marked Manufacturing Day 2015, a day where a number of manufacturing industry players opened their doors to students and community members. This annual event aims to change the perception of today’s manufacturing environment by giving manufacturers an opportunity to “show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t.”

And what an impressive showing this year’s initiative drew. More than 2,500 activities popped up across North America — from school visits and open houses, to presentations, plant tours and expos, these events continue the discussion on the viability of skilled trades careers for students, educators and industry alike.

The need to attract young workers into the skilled trades is not a new topic of conversation by any means… so why, after many years of discussion, haven’t we been successful at lessening that gap? What is wrong in our approach to tackling this ever-prevailing shortage and what solutions should we adopt?

A few ideas come to mind. Perhaps we should target students at a younger age, or maybe parents and other family members need to be more involved in these discussions. Another thought is that our educational system as a whole must understand the opportunities skilled trades can present to workers.

Just several days after Manufacturing Day 2015, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) published a very timely report.The study surveyed tradespeople at various stages of their career and found that 50 per cent of respondents reported making $80,000+ a year. It also indicated that many skilled trades careers transition into different fields, such as management, business ownership and teaching — busting the myth that skilled trades equal “dead-end jobs.” “We need to share that story with young people,” said Sarah Watts-Rynard, CAF-FCA executive director.

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I couldn’t agree more. These success stories are just one element of this united movement for skilled trades careers we must continue to promote, both nationally and globally, to highlight the endless opportunities this vibrant industry offers.

This column was previously published in the November/December 2015 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.