Social Media Brings Millennials to Manufacturing
Ian Wright posted on August 30, 2017 |
Utah campaign more than doubles student enrollment in manufacturing programs.
A collage of things millennials are apparently killing. (Image courtesy of Imgur.)
A collage of things millennials are apparently killing. (Image courtesy of Imgur.)
It’s been suggested that American manufacturing is dying, but who’s to blame?

The most obvious culprits are those bloodthirsty millennials, whose victims range from chain restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee’s to movies to America itself. Indeed, the only thing they seem to be responsible for creating are listicles of the things they’re supposedly killing.

The manufacturing sector has been in their crosshairs for some time now and with the impending skills gap, a lingering question concerns how manufacturers can attract more millennials. There’s no doubt that digital factories will need skilled workers, not just tech, and while some future careers may help solve the skills gap, the sooner we can get millennials on board with manufacturing, the better.

If there’s one thing millennials love—aside from killing industries and avocado toast—it’s social media. That’s why the Utah Manufacturers Association (UMA) recently began a social media campaign entitled “Make Manufacturing Your Future” based around the hashtag #exploremfg.

(Image courtesy of Utah Manufacturers Association.)
(Image courtesy of Utah Manufacturers Association.)
It might sound silly, or even a tad condescending, but you can’t argue with the results.

The UMA used a baseline of 674 students in enrolled in statewide manufacturing programs—including welding, automation and CNC machining—as of September 30, 2016. By the end of the campaign, the number of new enrollees totalled 1,612 as of July 21.

Interestingly, this is significantly higher than the number of the UMA’s Instagram followers (265), Twitter followers (369), Facebook followers (912) or even the views for its primary YouTube video (601). This suggests that there’s no single social media channel that manufacturers can use to tap into the highly sought-after millennial market.

In other words, if you’re a company that’s trying to attract young talent, or an industry organization that’s looking to encourage the pursuit of a manufacturing education, having a Twitter account or a Facebook page isn’t enough.

As much as we might be inclined to lump millennials together into a single homogenous group, one of the hallmarks of this generation is the value it places on diversity and individuality. Perhaps that is the real reason we’re struggling to get millennials excited about manufacturing: the concept of a factory conjures up notions of conformity and repetition.

If millennials are the key to solving the skills gap, then manufacturers need to speak their language, not just in terms of social media, but by showing them how vibrant and dynamic the factory floor can truly be. If we can’t do that, American manufacturing may find itself added to the millennial’s dubious kill count.

Are millennials killing manufacturing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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