There have been increased reports of nationwide labor shortages in recent weeks. From airline companies to hotels, it seems like every sector and industry is set to experience the consequences. However, the manufacturing industry is looking to get ahead of the curve. During the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) 2021 Virtual Summer Conference, taking place from June 21-24, Julia Asoni, senior director of Youth Engagement at the Manufacturing Institute (MI), offered a presentation focused on how to attract new people to jobs in manufacturing and how to increase awareness of careers in manufacturing for students and educators.

“A recent study, just published last month by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute found that manufacturers will need to hire 4.1 million workers in the next eight years, and that’s to fill positions that are lost to retirees, and to account for growth in the sector. But firms are really going to struggle to fill over 2 million of those jobs,” said Asoni.

Part of MI’s goal to help fill as many manufacturing positions as possible over the next decade is to organize a day where manufacturers address challenges to help communities and the future workforce find their place in the industry. This led to the creation of Manufacturing Day – or MFG Day. This year, MFG Day has emphasized a need for virtual events and experiences to further engage students in considering a future in the industry. Asoni is concerned mostly with engaging students and educators.

“So shifting the focus to students may not seem like it needs to be a key priority, with so many jobs open right now,” she said. “But if the health of your workforce in the next five to 10 years is important to you, it really is critical to engage students, and it may be a lot easier than you think.”

Her goal is to shift perception among students to show that the industry isn’t “dark, dirty and dangerous” and opportunities after high school can lead to high-paying careers and exposure to technology and innovations.

“It’s also really helpful for kids to start hearing… that there’s many possible pathways that they can take after high school, and they can begin some of those pathways while they’re in high school, and it may not necessarily involve a four-year degree, and it can still have tremendous outcomes.”

As a youth engagement activity, companies can get involved by hosting presentations and offering facility tours and press conferences. To encourage virtual events, video tours and employee conversations are also a suggested way to allow students to engage with employees and understand what their future path could look like.

The FGIA 2021 Virtual Summer Conference continues through June 24. Stay tuned to USGNN for the latest updates.