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Modern Manufacturing Careers Offer a Variety of Exciting Opportunities for Michigan’s Youth


What comes to mind when you think about a job in manufacturing?

When an industry has been around as long as manufacturing has, sometimes it’s difficult to change the outdated perception of dark and dirty factories. Those days are over and today’s manufacturing facilities are modern, clean and technologically advanced. For example, take a look at the image of the Amway manufacturing facility below. Much has changed in the manufacturing sector, both in looks and in talent needs which makes it an excellent opportunity for future, in-demand careers.

Organizations are continuing efforts to improve the perceptions of this industry and highlight the opportunities available in modern manufacturing. One way they are looking to create change is through the annual focus on Manufacturing Day, celebrated the first Friday of October. In fact, many companies have taken it upon themselves to turn October into a month of activities centered around changing the perceptions of manufacturing. Across the industry, you’ll see a variety of activities which showcase the career potential and foster interest within modern manufacturing.

Young adults, parents, teachers and community leaders need to rethink their attitudes about manufacturing as a career. According to the Manufacturing Institute, manufacturers will seek to fill 4 million high-skill, high-tech and high-paying jobs over the next decade. Manufacturers will play a critical role in helping their communities and future generations thrive. They will do this by offering a variety of jobs that require a number of different skills.

Modern manufacturing needs youth who are educated in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to fill their open positions. The photo above is a picture of manufacturing at Eagle Technologies in Bridgman, Michigan. They build custom machines that automate factories across the world. Among their team members you’ll find machinists, project managers, assembly technicians, engineers, apprentices, interns and more.

It’s imperative that we change the outlook on manufacturing careers. If we don’t, more than half of the over 4 million manufacturing jobs in the United States could be left unfilled because of misperceptions about modern manufacturing and the current gap in skills needed to effectively work in these fields.

According to Work Clout the top 13 skills required for work in manufacturing are:

  1. Strong communication

  2. Critical thinking

  3. Analytical thinking

  4. Teamwork and tolerance

  5. STEM exposure

  6. Mechanical and technical aptitude

  7. Flexibility

  8. Problem solving

  9. Multi-lingual

  10. Attention to detail

  11. Aptitude for and interest in technology

  12. Dependable

  13. Cross-training

Many of these skills are included in our Youth Solutions premier program, Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG). An added bonus that you’ll see in this industry is the fact that many manufacturers offer on-the-job training or apprenticeship programs, where employers will help youth learn the skills needed to be successful in various roles. No previous work experience is required, just a willingness to learn and be ready to work.

And if you are thinking that manufacturing careers are just for men, you couldn’t be more wrong. Modern manufacturers have realized that a successful workplace is a diverse workplace. There are organizations and associations like Women in Manufacturing (WiM) that were established to support, promote and inspire women to consider careers in manufacturing. Manufacturing offers career pathways for everyone!

If you thought you needed to move out of Michigan to find a good-paying, in-demand manufacturing job, that just isn’t the case. Michigan is a major manufacturing state, home to 14,749 manufacturing companies with over 730,000 employees. Not only will you find the “Big 3” Auto Manufacturers, you’ll also find a large number of auto suppliers have a large presence throughout the state as well.

Another misconception about manufacturing in Michigan is that these jobs are primarily found in the Detroit area. That’s simply not the case. In fact, Grand Rapids leads the industry with 56,632 manufacturing jobs. You can find opportunities in manufacturing around the entire state of Michigan.

Count on Youth Solutions to celebrate Manufacturing Day and continue to spotlight opportunities in manufacturing throughout the entire month on our social media channels. We’ll be sharing the stories of our youth working in this industry, employee partner organizations and what they have to offer individuals interested in a career in manufacturing.

We’d love to hear from you. How have your perceptions of manufacturing changed over the years? Share your thoughts on our social media pages: Twitter, Facebook , and LinkedIn.


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