Indiana is the most manufacturing intensive state in the country and more than a third of the state’s GDP comes from the industry. The health and wellness of Indiana’s economy is dependent on the state’s manufacturing industry. But Hoosiers face a challenge: it is expected that nearly a quarter of the current manufacturing workforce will be of retirement age in the next 10 years and we lack the generational workforce to make up that gap.

One of the goals of Conexus Indiana is to fight this gap by encouraging the workforce of tomorrow to consider a career in this innovative industry, but startling new research shows that perception among the most important influencers of the future workforce, Hoosier parents, is alarmingly low.

Conexus Indiana partnered with BBC Research & Consulting to survey parents of young adults in Indiana. The research revealed that only a third of Hoosier parents are familiar with the manufacturing industry in Indiana. Of parents who are unfamiliar, 83 percent said they found manufacturing an undesirable career pathway for their child.

When asked what career attributes parents looked for in a good career for their child, more than 60 percent selected the ability to earn a comfortable living as most important. But few were able to accurately determine that the average salary for someone working in manufacturing is over $77,000 annually. More than 80 percent underestimate the average.

When parents are familiar with the advanced manufacturing and logistics industries, they are more likely to find the industries desirable for their children. Educators also extolled the benefits and high wages of the advanced manufacturing industry during focus group research.

Educators said the most effective way to convince parents and students of the benefits advanced manufacturing provides is to give them hands-on experience at manufacturing facilities and a glimpse into what the day-to-day of a manufacturing career looks like in today’s world.

This is why Conexus Indiana considers the month of October so important. It’s the national month of celebration for manufacturing and an opportunity to open facility doors to students, educators and parents to show all that manufacturing has to offer in Indiana.

The month, led by the Manufacturing Institute nationally, is a movement to show the reality of modern manufacturing careers by encouraging companies and educational institutions to open doors to their community in an effort to make the industry better understood, appreciated and desirable.

In 2018, more than 267,000 students across the country attended Manufacturing Day events and were able to experience innovative technologies like AI and IoT that define modern manufacturing. These visits are shown to have real impact: of the students who attended in 2018, 84 percent were more convinced that manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding and 64 percent were motivated to pursue a manufacturing career. This year, more than 200 events are planned in Indiana.

To get involved, manufacturers can host their own event or register an existing event at MFGDay.com. Educators and parents can visit MFGDay.com to find an event near them to attend and experience Indiana’s modern manufacturing ecosystem. The Conexus Indiana team has volunteered 100 hours already this month to these celebratory manufacturing events across the state.

Manufacturing Day is an investment in the workforce of tomorrow, and we owe it to the future of the Hoosier state to engage in this important work.