Manufacturers Group Expands Effort to Fill Industry Jobs

The National Association of Manufacturers launched its Creators Connect website to connect users to employers, and shift how the field is perceived.

A leading manufacturing association has launched a new website intended to address ongoing employment gaps in the industry.

Creators Connect, launched February 17, is a project of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and its charitable offshoot, the Manufacturing Institute, in partnership with manufacturing jobs website FactoryFix. Creators Connect itself is a spinoff of Creators Wanted, an initiative designed to attract more workers to the industry, according to Chrys Kefalas, managing vice president of brand strategy at NAM.

Creators Wanted began before the pandemic as a suite of online informational tools and roadshows on college campuses and similar locations to showcase the industry. In that time, NAM has collected contact information for more than a million people, Kefalas said. 

It’s also gathered some wisdom about what might attract those people to manufacturing jobs. Though the site is a job bank and guide to credentialing and certification programs, it uses a persona-based structure to guide visitors to jobs, featuring categories such as “explore new frontiers,” “engineer and design the future,” and more.

An essential part of our campaign was to reignite a focus on creativity.

Chrys Kefalas, NAM

“We’ve got the network, and we have the data,” Kefalas said. “The next step was providing more than just resources and shifting perceptions, but providing tangible rewards and opportunities for manufacturing careers.”

Shifting perceptions is critical because NAM’s research has found that negative attitudes still dog the industry. “What we saw often and repeated in our research among parents and students was that these were seen as dead-end careers and all the same kind of labor, and not as much about the purpose-driven work that manufacturers are dealing with,” Kefalas said. “So an essential part of our campaign was to reignite a focus on creativity.” 

There’s some evidence that past efforts have made a dent in those perceptions—NAM research has found that in recent years positive perceptions of the industry among students has increased from the mid-20s to 40 percent. Kefalas said some of the credit for that is due to work NAM has done internally, using data science to gauge responses to its content and adjust its messaging. “We’ve been tracking how audiences react to our content and posts on our own media channels and then augmenting our targeting strategies based on that,” he said

Creators Wanted is part of an ambitious suite of goals that NAM has set for the manufacturing workforce: According to a press release, NAM wants to recruit 600,000 new workers for the industry, increase the number of students in training programs by 25 percent, and move the positive perception of the industry “among parents and career influencers” to 50 percent. 

“We’re confident that we can take those million people in our data set and drive them to career opportunities to reach those goals,” Kefalas said. “We have the opportunities in manufacturing with 800,000 open jobs. Our goal is to get people who aren’t on the playing field on the surface, so they can take that next step to rewarding careers.”

(izusek/iStock/Getty Images)

Mark Athitakis

By Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. MORE

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