As factories gear up in October for Manufacturing Day — technically it was Oct. 2 but companies are active the whole month — you'll hear a lot about the skills gap. The term refers to the troubles companies have finding employees, particularly in technical jobs, and how the youth recruitment at the heart of Manufacturing Day is seen as a long-term strategy to close that gap.
Now, manufacturing groups are gearing up to address what they're calling the Opportunity Gap.
The National Association of Manufacturers and its Task Force on Closing the Opportunity Gap released a report Sept. 25 calling for the industrial sector to find new ways to create job opportunities for people of color.
"By 2025, manufacturers commit to taking 50,000 tangible actions to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities, creating 300,000 pathways to job opportunities for Black people and all people of color," NAM wrote. "In doing so, manufacturing will reflect the diversity of the overall U.S. workforce by 2030."
Veteran plastics executive Vicki Holt, CEO of Proto Labs Inc., sits on the opportunity gap task force.
I see NAM's focus on this as in line with its ongoing work to build pathways to recruit more women to manufacturing careers, something that its Manufacturing Institute has focused on in recent years.
There's obviously a lot of social unrest in our country now, and efforts to make society more equitable. But I think these efforts are also good business, a win-win for society and manufacturing.
Whether it's targeting young people in Manufacturing Day or increasing efforts to close opportunity or gender gaps, finding new ways to tap into overlooked groups for employees will make the whole industry stronger and ultimately make the industrial sector more competitive globally.
We'll have coverage in our Oct. 12 issue of plastics companies participating in this year's virtual Manufacturing Day events.