Employment in U.S. factories and manufacturers has been steadily rising since 2010 when the industry was at 700,000 positions. Due to consistence growth, we are quickly surpassing 12.1 million jobs. These improvements are huge, but the best way to continue to foster job growth is by getting ahead of the game and building a roster of new hires. One such example is Project Lead the Way (PLTW), which helps manufacturing businesses find new potential hires by working to close the skills gap.
Created in 1997 in New York, PLTW is a non-profit organization that helps develop STEM curriculum in elementary, middle and high schools, as well as colleges, all across the country. In a study from 2014, high school graduates who had participated in PLTW were nearly three times as likely to major in a STEM (short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field compared to their non-PLTW graduates.
This is great news, as manufacturing careers have developed significantly in the last several decades. Traditional manufacturing careers now require more science- and computer-based kills than ever before. As a society, we need to make more of an effort to introduce and educate our youth in STEM-related skills. This education should start with students in high school or even younger, and then provide continuing education in universities, community colleges, vocational schools, skills centers, etc. By exposing students to beginning computer and engineering courses at an earlier age, we can set them on the right track for a promising career in manufacturing.
Additionally, these careers in manufacturing also work out better for the students themselves in the long run. Many of these open jobs in manufacturing fields are willing to pay top dollar for qualified candidates, and most careers can lead to $80,000+ salaries.
Currently, there are almost 70 different schools in the New Jersey area that offer PLTW schooling, and another 13 that are a PLTW-certified school. With a program like PLTW, more and more students will become interested in the STEM fields as well as manufacturing—it’s only a matter of keeping an eye out for new graduates.
For more information on the skills gap, and promising careers in manufacturing, there is also NJMEP’s Experience Manufacturing program. This was created as part of NJMEP’s larger “Year of Advocacy” program, which was announced in May of 2014 with the goal of raising $250,000 in revenue to New Jersey’s manufacturing businesses. NJMEP accomplished this goal in November 2014.
The Experience Manufacturing program was designed to introduce young adults and recently graduated students to the realm of manufacturing, by providing an easy conduit between the manufacturers with open positions and anyone looking to begin a new career. Manufacturing businesses can post any new job openings, and qualified applicants can submit their resume through the NJMEP website form. Additionally, the Experience Manufacturing program is free to all those who apply.
For additional information about NJMEP’s Experience Manufacturing, click below: