A study conducted last year by The Manufacturing Institute, APICS and Deloitte uncovered important information about women in manufacturing. While women represent 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force, they make up only 27 percent of the manufacturing workforce. This discrepancy points to huge potential for attracting female workers to help fill the estimated 2 million jobs that are expected to go unfilled in the upcoming years due to the skills gap and natural attrition due to retirement.
According to the study, reaching girls during their K-12 school years is one of the keys to encouraging them to pursue careers in the manufacturing industry. That’s why Mazak hosted a “Making it Real–Girls & Manufacturing” Event at their North American headquarters in Florence, Kentucky last week. Organized by Dream It Do It OKI and I Made It in NKY, these events provide middle and high school students and educators an opportunity to learn about today’s manufacturing workplace directly from women business leaders and to discover the skills needed to be successful in manufacturing careers.
Female students from local schools, including Cooper, Conner, Gallatin County, Holmes and RA Jones, spent the day with them and participated in a variety of activities. They gave tours of the facility including administrative offices and Mazak iSMART Factory™ to show the students what a 21st Century manufacturing facility looks like. Throughout this tour, they pointed out the wide range of positions available from administrative, leadership, sales, marketing, technology, purchasing and engineering to the many different opportunities on the shop floor. Mazak’s professionals also gave them a great look at what’s possible with today’s advanced machines and how connectivity to the Internet can improve efficiency and productivity on the shop floor.
During the event, the students also participated in a hands-on electronic assembly activity and a panel discussion with special guest Laura Lyons, president and CEO of ATech Manufacturing. ATech is a leader in the design and development of world-class trainers and courseware for the Automotive OEM, Secondary Education, Community College, Military and Technical School markets. Laura was not only able to discuss the skills and knowledge manufacturers need, but is also a great representative of another type of career in the industry.
Another highlight of the day was when Elizabeth Schneider spoke to the girls about her decision to switch from nursing school to manufacturing. Elizabeth, who runs one of the machines in the Florence factory described how she likes that the technology is always advancing. Not only does this keep her job very interesting, but also provides many opportunities to learn and grow.
At Mazak, they believe it’s critical to develop this pipeline of skilled workers for manufacturing, especially since according to the Labor Department, the number of open positions in this field is the highest in 15 years. This event was a great opportunity to showcase how technology has revolutionized manufacturing, how Mazak machine tools make parts that improve everyday life, and how modern manufacturing offers an avenue for women to pursue fulfilling and lucrative careers.