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Manufacturing jobs appeal more to Gen Z than millennials

One-third of Generation Z — adults ages 18 to 22 — have had manufacturing suggested to them as a career option.

That’s compared to only 18 percent of millennials and 13 percent of the general population of adults, according to Industry Week, citing a new study, 2019 L2L Manufacturing Index.

The study, which also examines the American public’s perceptions of U.S. manufacturing, found that Gen Z was 19 percent more likely than the overall population to have had a counselor, teacher or mentor suggest they consider manufacturing as a viable career option. It was reported that the group of young adults was intrigued by manufacturing careers.

They are 7 percent more likely to consider working in the manufacturing industry and 12 percent less likely to view the manufacturing industry as being in decline, both compared against the general population.

“For many years, manufacturing has struggled to introduce and entice new workers to the industry,” L2L CEO Keith Barr told the publication.

While Generation Z seems to have had greater overall exposure to manufacturing, that age group still held misperceptions about the technical nature of manufacturing; a majority — 56 percent — said they would consider working in the tech industry, but only 27 percent would consider working in the manufacturing industry.

However, the study showed manufacturing’s efforts to address its workforce shortage and reposition itself among Americans is making headway. Last year’s L2L Manufacturing Index measured that 70 percent of people believed that the American manufacturing industry was in decline. This year, only 54 percent thought it was declining.

“With Gen Z we have an opportunity, as an industry, to build a new workforce, but it will be a challenge that the industry is going to have to take seriously in order to get their attention and participation,” said Barr.

“We know that the workforce crisis is a top concern with a majority of manufacturers. Instead of hoping new workers will appear, the industry needs to make changes that will attract the workforce,” Barr added. “Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy. The industry needs to consider developing and deploying plant-floor technology that utilizes gamification and transparency to take advantage of Gen Z’s unique skills. The greatest opportunity for manufacturing is to have an engaged, empowered workforce that is constantly innovating.”

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