According to IndustryWeek, there are currently 255,000 open manufacturing jobs in the United States, making it an all time high. A recent report projects that 2.4 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled over the next decade (2019). Due to Baby Boomers transitioning into retirement, many jobs are opening up, thus the ‘Silver Tsunami.’ It is up to Generation Z to take over the manufacturing workforce, but there has been a constant disconnect between the industry and the people.
In order to get out of this workforce crisis, it is extremely important to create a better connection between the industry and the misconceptions Generation Z has about manufacturing and trade jobs. For example, a 2019 study by L2L Manufacturing Index, revealed that over half (53%) of the general population assumes the average salary of a mid-level manufacturing manager is under $60,000. In reality, the average salary for a manufacturing manager in 2018 was $118,500, according to the 2018 Salary Survey report from IndustryWeek.
The manufacturing industry struggles the most in delivering proper education to Gen Z as there is an extreme disconnect in considering alternative career plans outside of traditional 4-year institutions. “The industry has failed to compete with technology for their [Gen Z’s] interest and unfortunately the industry hasn’t fully explained the dynamic, technology-driven environment of the modern plant floor” (IndustryWeek, 2019).
Organizations like GPS Education Partners (GPSEd) have been serving Millennials and Generation Z for the past 20 years by connecting the manufacturing industry to students eagerly looking for alternative career plans. GPSEd works to correct the misconceptions about the industry by developing greater career awareness through work-based learning opportunities.
Although Generation Z shows higher interest and exposure to manufacturing jobs compared to Millennials, and the general population, they currently seek higher paying jobs in a more open learning environment with alternative types of education and training (IndustryWeek, 2019). Can Generation Z fill the need of manufacturing jobs and save the industry from the “Silver Tsunami” effect?