A Manufacturing Solution: Women

Posted By: Jeff Krause, Chief Executive Officer, SME on June 14, 2018

Jeff Krause, Chief Executive Officer, SME

Manufacturing employment has been continuing to grow. Year-to-date the industry has grown by 115,000 workers, and women are leading that charge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women accounted for more than 80 percent of May’s manufacturing employment growth. In 2017, women saw their best year of growth in manufacturing employment in 20 years – and 2018 has already seen growth three times that of the same period last year!

Women accounted for more than 80 percent of May’s manufacturing employment growth.

Women make up 49.6 percent of the overall U.S. workforce, but in manufacturing account for just 27.9 percent of workers. With an estimated shortfall of two million workers in manufacturing by 2025, women represent a critical – yet largely untapped – solution to one of the greatest threats facing the industry. That’s why it is so encouraging to see growth numbers like we have seen this year.

In May, the number of women in manufacturing grew 15,000 from April, to 3.537 million, while manufacturing in whole added 18,000 workers to its roster. That’s 83.3 percent of total manufacturing employment growth for the month coming from women. Year-to-date, 64,000 more women work in manufacturing than at the end of 2017. In case you were wondering, that’s more than 55 percent of all growth in manufacturing employment this year.

This industry growth is incredibly inspiring. Manufacturing contributes nearly $6 trillion in value to the U.S. economy, and our workers have a wide range of opportunities. We know that as manufacturing continues to advance, attracting a diverse workforce is critical to our continued success.

Women represent a critical solution to one of the greatest threats facing the industry.

It’s imperative we continue to motivate young people to consider a career in manufacturing; to provide them with successful careers and to cultivate a diverse workforce. On the last day of April, there were 451,000 job openings in manufacturing, the 29th month in a row that job openings have surpassed 300,000. We’re not at risk of turning qualified workers away anytime soon; without attracting more people, including women, manufacturing and our economy will suffer.

As an industry we should partner with schools to promote the opportunities available for workers of every race, gender and creed in manufacturing. If you don’t already, reach out to your local school district and ask if you can come talk to students about the opportunities in manufacturing, host a community day at your shop so others can see what our industry is really about, and highlight the female role models you know. It is up to us to solve the skills gap challenge, and we cannot do that without women.

The continued growth of women in manufacturing will play an important role in the advancement of our industry and 2018 is certainly shaping up to be a great year.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

Tags: "employment growth", gender, "Jeff Krause", SME, "Tooling U-SME", "women in manufacturing"