The Stream by River Logic

Jobs in Manufacturing: How Millennials Can Generate True Value

February 19, 2019 | By Shannon Kearns

Millennials contemplating their future face many misconceptions about the best career path to choose; in particular, popular opinion that traditional careers such as manufacturing are in decline while service industries are in ascendance influences them.

Consequently, many graduates turn to financial services sectors tempted by promises of quick and easy wealth through investment banking, stock trading, and hedge fund management. While some succeed, the truth is, there's no such thing as easy money, and the risks associated within the financial service sector are often underestimated.

Manufacturing, on the other hand, offers greater stability, good prospects, and better intellectual stimulation as it embraces new and fascinating technologies such as analytics, automation, and robotics.

Myths and Hyped Up Perceptions

Several myths about the death of manufacturing as well as hyped up perceptions of rewards in the financial sector fuel the attitudes.

While there's no doubt many industries have suffered as a result of offshoring, industries that remain in the U.S. are strong and high-tech. Take the aviation industry as an example. Boeing is one of the two leading aircraft manufacturers in the world. Apple is still a top innovator in computers and mobile devices, and one of the largest companies in terms of market capitalization. The motor industry still makes 65 percent of all vehicles sold in the country.

In comparison, the rewards in the financial sector aren't as great nor as secure as some believe. One fundamental reason is that for every transaction there's a loser and a winner. It's impossible to get it right all the time even with technical trading tools. History shows that risky trading eventually results in a bust, so there's little long-term security, as seen when the housing bubble burst in 2008.

Alluring Opportunities in Manufacturing

Whereas the financial services sector is one where there may be no net gain, manufacturing adds value and grows wealth. Added to that is the fact that modern manufacturing is no longer a blue-collar activity, but one that's at the cutting edge of technology, requiring the best engineers and managers.

There are fascinating opportunities in automation and through the use of IoT devices to monitor and control activities. Supply chain management has become specialized, and thanks to sophisticated software, provides almost complete visibility throughout the organization. These tools make it possible to optimize activities to achieve better results. Cutting-edge analytical tools take the guesswork out of major decisions and factor in influencing business activity. These tools enable managers to harness the strengths and capabilities across their organizations to drive profitability and growth.

True Facts About U.S. Manufacturing

The U.S. has the world's second-largest manufacturing industry, responsible for 17 percent of all manufacturing. The industry contributes around 33 percent of U.S. GDP. Exports contribute significantly toward the country's balance of payments. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the U.S. is the fifth most productive country in the world, and the only countries with higher productivity are Luxembourg, Ireland, Norway, and Belgium.

According to MAPI Foundation research, there are fewer regular job losses in manufacturing than in all non-manufacturing fields. Manufacturing startups have a 30 percent higher success rate than non-manufacturing startups. Wages are higher in manufacturing and benefits substantially better.

Key Skill Sets Needed in Manufacturing

Millennials are part of the present and the future. They represent school leavers, undergraduate students, and the most active part of the workforce. It's the Millennials who are driving changes in American manufacturing.

The changes in manufacturing techniques mean that graduates entering manufacturing need to focus on specific skills sets. These include:

  • Math. To cope with algorithms, graduates need good math skills including competency in algebra, statistics, probability theory, and differential equations.
  • Finance. Working knowledge of business finance is essential for business optimization.
  • Analytics. Data science skills such as understanding the importance of predictive and prescriptive analytics and being able to ask questions such as how to increase business profitability.
  • Business. Those who are most successful will have a thorough understanding of how a business runs, operationally, strategically, and financially.

Taking the Long View

Manufacturing offers greater job security and better salaries than most other sectors of the economy. Additionally, by involving yourself in manufacturing, you're helping to create true wealth and added value, which is much greater than the amount invested thanks to the knock-on effect in support industries. This is more satisfying than the frenetic activity of technical trading, which is for many a mug's game. Although the financial sector is important and has a role to play, of itself, it does not create wealth within the economy.

There's the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of technology and to be involved in practical applications of industrial automation, artificial intelligence, and business intelligence. You can make a real impact. The skills learned, along with the broad business experience

Optimization or Similation

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