Every industry today is making a push to have more inclusivity and diversity. However, the manufacturing industry is lagging behind. While manufacturing careers are lucrative, rewarding, and great for those who wish for a job that doesn’t require a college degree, there is a notable lack of diversity.
There is already a shortage of women in the manufacturing workforce, especially in higher-level positions, but the lack of racial diversity is just as glaring.
According to the US Department of Labor Statistics, as of 2022, an overwhelming 78.7% of workers employed in the manufacturing industry are white. This needs to change.
Manufacturing Can’t Afford to Discriminate
The fact is, there’s a labor shortage going on in the manufacturing industry. Recent National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Manufacturers’ Outlook Surveys have found that one of the industry’s biggest issues is “attracting and retaining a quality workforce.” Baby Boomers are retiring and new workers aren’t filling these open positions fast enough. Skilled welders, quality control inspectors, CNC machine operators, and other key jobs are becoming harder to find.
With manufacturing being so key to not only the economy, but to modern civilization itself being able to function, the manufacturing industry can’t afford to discriminate based on something as arbitrary as ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. None of these things affect a person’s ability to learn the necessary skills to work and thrive in the workforce.
Diversity Benefits the Overall Economy
Speaking of the economy, did you know that manufacturing is one of the best industries for wealth building for low-income residents? This includes Latino, immigrant, and BIPOC. When workers are able to make a comfortable wage – not just livable – they have more disposable income they can then use to stimulate the economy. It’s really a win-win situation where minorities can actually live the American dream and the US economy gets a boost from its workers.
Diversity Brings in More Points of View
Lack of diversity damages an industry at every level. It’s extremely noticeable when upper-level jobs are primarily one group, and ideas tend to stagnate. Having people from multiple backgrounds and lifestyles encourages new ideas and boosts morale. The wider the range of ages, races, and genders in a group, the better off a business will be.
How to Improve Diversity In the Manufacturing Industry
It’s important for the manufacturing industry to recruit unemployed and underemployed job-seekers of all races and genders. They can do this by showcasing more diversity in marketing and recruitment campaigns. Starting early by encouraging young people to consider a manufacturing career while they’re still in middle school or high school is also a good strategy.
Probably the most critical thing is to emphasize to potential workers is that manufacturing is a place where they belong. Training should be inclusive, with different language options being offered. There should be diversity training in every business. With the right strategies and steps forward, the manufacturing industry will become stronger and more diverse, which will be a benefit to everyone.