Officials say the manufacturing pipeline will continue to run dry, at the nation’s peril, unless parents, schools and the industry step up the effort to reverse the message, delivered by two generations, that all children must graduate college to succeed.
Solis said it’s imperative for economic sustainability that young people “find their way” to positions in manufacturing.
McNelly says promoting the industry — as several North Carolina manufacturers did during a recent bus tour of schools there — is one step in that direction.
But above all else, Shoun says today’s middle and high school students need to understand that 21st century manufacturing bears little resemblance to the jobs held by their grandparents following the second world war.
“When you say ‘occupational vocation,’ the technology of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s comes to mind,” said Shoun. “The reality is that it’s all high technology now. We need to do a better job of showing not only kids but their parents as well what it means to be a machinist or an automotive technician — that it’s just as complex as being an engineer.”