Manufacturers open doors for MFG Day to change perception of jobs

580 200 John Guenther

Friday marks an important day in the California economy. While not yet another food “holiday,” Manufacturing Day is part of a national campaign to change the perception of jobs in the industry as undesirable and unpromising careers.

Since 2012, participating U.S. manufacturers and schools with career technical education programs have opened their doors on “MFG Day“, as it's also known, to showcase and promote modern manufacturing jobs as good-paying, skilled careers.

California Forward went to Cerritos College for the 2nd annual MFG Day and profiled students and educators involved in one of the largest welding programs in the state in above video.

The annual average salary of U.S. manufacturing workers is more than $77,000. And California's manufacturing sector, while not as big in recent years, employs 1.28 million workers in the state, making up 11 percent of non-farm employment numbers.

Yet, one of the main challenges faced by manufacturers today is attracting enough workers with the right skills to fill jobs, especially as older workers head into retirement. It's estimated that there will be a need for one million more middle-skill workers to fill jobs opening up over the next decade in California.

Solving the problem has been hindered by the public perception that careers in manufacturing are undesirable and also by career technical education programs that sometimes are insufficient for filling regional job market needs.

To share in the conversation, California manufacturers and attendees will be using the #MFGDay16 hashtag to share stories and photos of the day. Anyone interested in participating in an event in California can find them on the official MFG Day site.

“It's a perfect opportunity to show our lawmakers that our state's economy is built on a manufacturing community that is innovative, efficient, exciting, and a national leader,” said California Manufacturers and Technology Association President Dorothy Rothrock. “Every policy coming out of our state government should look to grow the state's manufacturing base or at least do it no harm.”

The California Economic Summit has targeted the workforce training issue in its 2016 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity and is advancing an action plan designed to better connect regional workforce training systems with each other—and with evolving labor market needs.

The 2016-17 state budget finalized in June includes all three of the Summit’s top goals for the year. And the workforce skills gap will be front and center at the 2016 California Economic Summit being held in Sacramento, where attendees will further sharpen strategies to boost workforce training.

One way the Summit has made progress on this problem is by participating in creation of the Strong Workforce Program, a California Community College-led effort with the “purpose of expanding the availability of quality community college career technical education and workforce development courses, programs, pathways, credentials, certificates, and degrees.”

The state's community colleges are ideally placed, with schools in every region, to help prepare more career technical education students for jobs available now.

The Summit worked closely with partners from the 2015 Strong Workforce Task Force and business groups to ensure that the Strong Workforce Program will support more coordination among community colleges, create more efficient career technical education program spending, and improve responsiveness to regional labor markets. The next step will be making sure the work of the Program is implemented effectively in every region.

Efforts like MFG Day and the Strong Workforce Program to boost both the perception of career technical jobs and the effectiveness of education programs will be important in closing the skills gap and moving more Californians onto a pathway of upward mobility.


John Guenther

All stories by: John Guenther