How do you change someone’s perception? Most adults are pretty skeptical, so you can’t change their perception about something by just telling them to think differently. Facts? No one seems to believe them anymore; which ones can you trust? Opinion is colored by personal experience – people have to see something or experience it to believe it. Even kids have perceptions about things, not always formed by their own personal experience, but rather by the experiences of those closest to them whom they trust.
So, if the general public perception of manufacturing is that it is a dark, dirty, dangerous endeavor that is not a place anyone would want to work if they have a choice, it takes real work to change the perception. And since perception is based in personal experience the manufacturing industry has to create experiences available to the general public that will show them in an up-close-and-personal way that their perception needs to change.
Enter Manufacturing DaySM
In 2012 a few industry organizations created the celebration called Manufacturing Day and shared with their members and constituents that if manufacturers would open their doors and host facility tours for their community, they could change perceptions about the industry and get people to encourage youth to investigate training leading to manufacturing careers. Given the skilled labor challenges the industry faced at the time (and still does) it seemed a logical place to start in inspiring a future workforce. In the first year only 240 companies gave the concept a try and collectively hosted 35,000 guests. Fast-forward to 2015 and more than ten times that original number of companies (2,600 to be exact) participated and hosted more than 400,000 visitors. That’s a lot of potential for changing the general perception of manufacturing. In 2016 at least 3,000 events will be held – many of them not just individual open houses, but collaborative efforts between companies, community organizations like chambers of commerce and school districts.
Does it Work?
Last year Deloitte, which has been charting public perception of manufacturing for nearly a decade through a survey program developed in collaboration with The Manufacturing Institute, offered to create an exit survey program for Manufacturing Day events that would measure if these experiences made a difference in how visitors perceived the industry. Most people involved in organizing the MFG DAY program suspected that seeing would lead to believing, but proof was needed and the exit survey was a reliable way to capture immediate reactions.
The Deloitte perception survey developed in collaboration with The Manufacturing Institute was made available to the more than 2,500 manufacturing hosts in 2015 to gather data from attendees. The results were dramatic:
- 81 percent of student respondents are more convinced manufacturing provides careers that are both interesting and rewarding
- 71 percent of student respondents are more likely to tell friends, family, parents or colleagues about manufacturing
- 93 percent of educators are more convinced manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding
- 90 percent of educators indicated they are more likely to encourage students to pursue a career in manufacturing
The same survey is available to all hosts of 2016 events; even more data will be collected and analyzed – on an individual event basis, as well as a national basis.
What Happens Next?
Many event hosts see the value in engaging their visitors in hands-on activities that take them beyond a facility tour. As youthful visitors are given an opportunity to take a product through the production process or test out a particular skill they become more connected to the manufacturing experience. In addition, the MFG DAY website provides access to free career-related educational materials. For students and teachers who have a “revelation” about manufacturing during their first MFG DAY experience, it is important that they can follow-up once that experience has concluded.
About the Manufacturing Day co-producers
Manufacturing Day is an annual national event, designed to showcase modern manufacturing technology and careers. A panel of co-producers comprised of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Manufacturing Institute (MI), the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), and guest producer Industrial Strength Marketing (ISM) provide the centralized support necessary to coordinate this nationwide array of simultaneous events. The national media partner for the event is the Science Channel and the strategic content partner is Edge Factor. Learn about hosting and attending events at www.mfgday.com.