By Gary Salamido
From producing safe and effective vaccines, to making the personal protective equipment for our health care heroes, North Carolina’s manufacturing community has been vital to the health of our people and our economy. Yet our state’s manufacturers have found themselves struggling to find workers while simultaneously trying to keep up with exponential demand. Talent was, and now through the pandemic, has been a top issue facing manufacturers.
North Carolina’s manufacturing jobs are good jobs. They’re well-paying and rewarding jobs — and they’re critical to our economy, accounting for nearly 17% of the gross state product and employing more than 10% of the state workforce.
Yet it’s estimated that the United States will need to fill more than 4 million manufacturing jobs by the end of the decade, with the potential for 2.1 million jobs going unfilled if current conditions don’t change soon, according to a study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.
That’s why North Carolina-based businesses such as Trane Technologies, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and The Manufacturing Institute are leading a nationwide initiative and tour – Creators Wanted – to change perceptions of manufacturing, highlight the exciting careers in modern manufacturing, and close the widening skills gap. That tour comes to Charlotte from Nov. 16-19.
The interactive event will allow students, parents, teachers, community leaders and emerging employees to fully experience what it’s like to be in manufacturing — revealing the modern technology, teamwork and innovation that goes into creating critical and often lifesaving products. The tour features chances to meet and question manufacturers, technology demonstrations by cutting-edge companies, insights into career opportunities and pathways into the industry and an immersive traveling “escape room” that provides real-life manufacturing scenarios along with accompanying insights.
Manufacturing wages and benefits pay well beyond average and provide long-term career growth for people at every education and job experience level – yet the manufacturing industry still has high numbers of job openings. These openings reflect a wider trend known as the skills gap, in which there aren’t enough potential employees with the skills or technical know-how needed to fill available positions.
For those reasons, the NC Chamber supports the Creators Wanted initiative — because we know that a vibrant, innovative and growing manufacturing workforce is good for all North Carolina industries and consumers. As the exclusive North Carolina affiliate for NAM, we also understand that an understaffed manufacturing industry will have ramifications that affect all businesses. Without the workforce needed, innovation will slow, supply chains will break down and the national economy would lose out on about $1 trillion in 2030 alone.
These manufacturers are coming to Charlotte to show that they have opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds, whether someone is a student planning out his or her future, a young person just starting your career or an experienced employee looking for change.
Our state needs creators who are eager to be part of a vital state industry that fuels nearly $103.59 billion per year in manufactured goods. On behalf of NAM and the NC Chamber, we hope you’ll stop by the Creators Wanted Tour from Nov. 16-19 at Central Piedmont Community College to listen, learn, and hopefully consider a future in one of our state’s most essential industries. You can reserve your place at the event at https://events.creatorswanted.org/charlotte.
Gary J. Salamido is the president and CEO of the NC Chamber.