Next-gen manufacturing: Paving a path to success

By Robin Tobin, instructional designer, The Raymond Corp.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Popular answers to this question are a teacher, a doctor, a firefighter or a police officer — all essential professions in our community. Today, when students are asked this question, we also want jobs in manufacturing to be top of mind, like being an engineer, a welder, an equipment operator or a facility manager.

Helping change this conversation is National Manufacturing Day. This year, the annual event was celebrated Oct. 5, and companies across the country held events to encourage local youth to consider a career path in manufacturing.

Showcase STEM careers


As part of this year’s Manufacturing Day celebration, The Raymond Corp. hosted more than 250 high school students from across southern New York to help them learn about opportunities within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. As the country experiences one of the tightest talent markets it has in the past century, it’s especially important that we, as manufacturers and distributors, speak to the next generation about viable job opportunities available in our industry.

Make manufacturing relatable


To make material handling more relatable to students, companies need to help students understand the key role it plays in their daily lives. From the food they eat to the clothes they buy in a store to the video games they order online and have delivered to their homes — none of that would be possible without material handling and manufacturing.

Provide engaging learning experiences


Hands-on, real-world learning experiences are another way to help students grasp the value and sheer breadth of opportunities that exist within the industry. Facility tours help showcase how trucks, people and technologies all work together to create an interconnected, efficient warehouse.

Highlight the technological advancements in the industry


Students are often surprised to see the technological innovation that exists within a warehouse. From fleet management systems to real-time location tracking systems, wearable technologies and automated guided vehicles, students are excited to learn about Industry 4.0 – the next generation of manufacturing.

Innovative learning tools, such as virtual-reality education, can also demonstrate how the industry is evolving to better meet today’s workforce needs. More accustomed to gaming, the younger generations may be interested to hear about this unique way of learning.

While Manufacturing Day is an important annual event, I challenge all of us as industry professionals to continually look for ways to engage youth and ignite their curiosity about STEM careers that exist within their communities. The future of manufacturing lies in the next generation’s hands, and we need to make sure they’re ready and excited for the opportunity.