How To Make Manufacturing Sexy....Again

By Joe Torrago on October 24, 2016

I recently attended a Kansas City Manufacturing Network event where the guest speaker was Karen Linder, author of the book "How Can We Make Manufacturing Sexy". Karin is the founder and owner of Karico International Inc. She has found her calling and her true passion in helping individuals and manufacturing companies to become the best they can be. Her message could not be more timely to the attendees.

  • The US just celebrated its fourth annual Manufacturing Day.
  • A recent survey of manufacturers in the state of Kansas indicated hiring and retaining talent continues to be the most significant area of need.
  • STEM (science, technology engineering and math education) jobs will be suffering the biggest deficit in the coming years.
  • Millennials want to work from home, not typically supported by jobs in manufacturing
  • Unemployment in Kansas is around 4%

So what was Karin's message? I won't do it justice in a short blog, but the basic message is about encouraging, engaging and utilizing the human capital already in your organization. There is much more to her message regarding the evolution of manufacturing, basic human needs, and the impact technology has had. However, Karin is adamant that while the landscape has changed, people still have the same basic needs in whatever organization they work for. They want to be heard, be able to contribute, be part of a team, know their opinion matters and is sought after. Technology and improvements in manufacturing has made many operations and functions either simpler or obsolete. However, there is still much opportunity for improvements and innovation in any organization.

Webster's dictionary defines sexy as "exciting, appealing or attractive". So how do you make manufacturing sexy or "exciting, appealing or attractive"? Do what Karin suggests and engage the human capital of your employees.

What do I mean by making it sexy again? From the industrial revolution until the middle of the 20th century, manufacturing was sexy. Jobs in this field were appealing and attractive. Somewhere along the way, the sexiness wore off. It's time to turn that around and let potential employees know the sexiness is back.