Sharing Your Family and Friends’ Stories Helps Champion Manufacturing in Georgia

Katie Takacs

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Capture a kid’s attention at a young age and it can inspire their future – through school, sports, art, music, or anything else that interests them. You often hear kids say they want to be a doctor, athlete, lawyer, policemen, or fireman. They associate these jobs with prestige and the “cool factor.” But how often do you hear a kid say he or she wants to work in manufacturing? What about pre-teens, teens, and even adults entering the workforce or changing careers? Many times, unless they have been exposed to manufacturing, they cannot relate to careers associated with industry or do not realize the variety of careers available within a manufacturing plant.

In an industry that was hard hit during the Great Recession and already had misconceptions, it’s even more important to position manufacturing in a way people can relate. This can be through finding connections to careers in manufacturing with the younger generations’ interest in Legos, robots, and computers; creating links to the communities’ people live in by promoting jobs associated with locally made products; or exposing educators and other influencers to everything manufacturing has to offer.

People relate more to other people than to corporations, services, or products. A couple of weeks ago Mary Ann Pacelli referenced the “Faces of Manufacturing” initiative in a blog post titled: Rosie the Riveter and the Changing Face of the Manufacturing Workforce. Faces of Manufacturing is bridging that gap and breaking down those proverbial barriers by giving people a glimpse into the lives and careers of real people that work in real manufacturing jobs. Some of the people featured include: a woman that put herself through college while raising two boys as a single mother; a 22 year old who discovered his love of manufacturing because he liked working on cars with his dad – and who almost didn’t take the path because he thought joining a robotics team was dorky; two guys who decided to produce their own product to help surgical patients and have since started their own manufacturing company; and the guy next door who came home to help his dad run the family company and is now changing the lives of everyone around him. These are just some of the stories that have come out of Faces of Manufacturing, a program designed by the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech to showcase the stories of people who work within or are affected by manufacturing in Georgia.

Every time a state representative “retweets” one of the Faces to their followers, a teacher shares a Faces video in his/her classroom, or one of the stories gets told on the local news, the message of the importance of manufacturing to our local, state, and national economy gets delivered to the next generation of manufacturers.

Growing up I didn’t understand what engineering was, nor did I have any exposure to the world of manufacturing. However, the longer I’m connected to this industry, the more convinced I am that theskill set and interests that I had as a kid could have easily aligned with working in manufacturing. So instead, I am now honored to promote manufacturing as an amazing, futuristic, and innovative industry and tell the stories of people within the industry through Faces of Manufacturing. If these stories influence a man or woman to change their career or a boy or girl to enroll in a summer camp or train for a career with a STEM focus, then we are helping to change the “Face of Manufacturing.” As a mother of two 4-year-old girls, I want them to have every opportunity available and choose the career that best suits them. And I also want them to know that manufacturing does have cool and prestigious jobs and that manufacturing is a viable, sustainable, and lucrative career choice.

Let’s get the next generation excited about manufacturing!