The city of Pella, Iowa, hosted a panel of distinguished Hawkeye State leaders on Tuesday who encouraged students to join the manufacturing industry and welcomed the Creators Wanted Tour Live on its third tour stop.
Having arrived in Iowa on Monday, the mobile experience, which is part of the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute’s comprehensive “Creators Wanted” workforce campaign, has been a main attraction this week. More than 400 students from multiple nearby schools, as well as local business and political leaders and the media, have attended in just its first two days of activation. The campaign’s aim: to inspire the next generation of manufacturers and help fill the 900,000-plus open manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
The largest sector in Iowa: Creators Wanted “is truly a unique opportunity for our young people to be introduced to the many exciting careers in manufacturing,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds told the audience at the Pella kickoff event Tuesday morning. “As governor, it’s encouraging for me to see so many students turn out for manufacturing, which is the largest sector in our economy.”
- Iowa boasts the third-highest concentration of manufacturing workers in the U.S., Gov. Reynolds said.
- Iowa Association of Business and Industry President Mike Ralston also underscored the strong state of manufacturing in Iowa in his address, telling students that nearly 18% of state GDP comes from manufacturing. It is one of the largest percentages nationwide, Ralston said. “The output of all that manufacturing activity is almost $34 billion,” he told attendees.
‘Passionate about manufacturing’: Pella Corporation President and CEO Tim Yaggi told the audience, which included students from Pella High School, Oskaloosa High School and Prairie City Monroe Community High School, about his company’s original mission nearly a century ago. Yaggi hammered home that the firm still has many excellent jobs available for those able and willing.
- “When Pete Kuyper founded Pella … he wasn’t passionate about windows or screens; he was passionate about manufacturing,” Yaggi said. “He knew that for this company, for this city to thrive, we needed a manufacturing base, and the reason he created the company was to create great jobs for the people of Iowa. Family. And that mission is just as true today as it was 96 years ago.”
- Vermeer Corporation President and CEO Jason Andringa, host of the Pella tour stop, talked about the many families employed at his company. Children and grandchildren work alongside their parents and grandparents, he said. “Vermeer has been proud to help generate and develop the next generation of the workforce we need for manufacturing.”
Doing good—and being needed: In his remarks at the premier event, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons mixed things up by asking the audience about their plans for the future. “Raise your hand if you want to change the world for the better, if you want to do good,” he said. Numerous arms shot up. Continued Timmons, “With manufacturing, you can do good.”
Closing argument: “We need more people like you; we need you,” Timmons said. And what’s more, manufacturing gives people “opportunities to have a heck of a lot of fun.… I guarantee you are going to love it.”
Momentum: Joining the tour in Pella and broadcasting live from Vermeer Corporation, Fox Business Network and Fox News ran a combined five stories about the Creators Wanted campaign yesterday, including this hit with Neil Cavuto and Connell McShane. A CNN Newsource piece continues to appear in local television markets throughout the country. And Iowa news media is providing wall-to-wall coverage of the Creators Wanted Pella tour stop.
Want to join the list of Creators Wanted sponsors? Email the Creators Wanted campaign.
Some of the most impressive women in the industry gathered in Washington, D.C., last week for The Manufacturing Institute’s ninth annual STEP Ahead Awards—the first in-person ceremony since the pandemic began. The awards, and the leadership training program that precedes them, are designed to recognize and advance women’s achievements in the fields of science, technology, engineering and production. This year, honorees and “emerging leaders” from both 2020 and 2021 had the opportunity to attend the events, as last year’s events were online-only.
The leadership program: For the leadership training program, the MI brought in distinguished experts to help honorees advance their careers in the industry.
- The program, consisting of general sessions and preselected breakouts, covered a range of must-have professional skills, such as negotiating. It also featured industry executives and STEP Ahead alumnae who provided firsthand accounts of their experiences in manufacturing, along with advice for navigating a career in the industry.
The awards ceremony: The awards gala took place on Thursday night. Nearly 600 guests gathered in person, adhering to strict health and safety protocols, including a vaccination requirement, while hundreds tuned in online. The program featured:
- MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee;
- 2021 STEP Ahead Chair and Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Global Supply Chain Officer Kathy Wengel;
- NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons; and
- Keynote speaker and Gravitas Founder and CEO Lisa Sun.
The awards sponsors included BASF, Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Trane Technologies, BorgWarner and Rockwell Automation. This year’s STEP Ahead Vice Chair and 3M Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Denise Rutherford and Ketchie Inc. President and Owner Courtney Silver served as the masters of ceremonies.
Leading in a crisis: The speakers acknowledged the toll that the pandemic has taken on manufacturers and praised the honorees for contributing to the industry’s robust response.
- As Lee put it, “How many times did we get knocked down? How many times did we think, ‘Maybe we got knocked out’? But we’re still here. And we’re here and we’re standing because of you, because of manufacturing. The women in this room and industry and our world are going to come out of this stronger than ever.”
- Wengel echoed this sentiment, saying, “When I look around this room, it hits me: the incredible impact on human life that manufacturers from so many industries … have made in the past 22 months.”
Creators needed: Timmons, who has been traveling with Lee to promote the NAM and MI’s Creators Wanted Tour Live mobile experience, talked about the importance of attracting more women to the industry.
- “With your example and your mentorship, you’re giving more and more young people a reason to say, ‘I want to be just like her,’” he said. “And we urgently need more people like you.”
Setting an example: Keynote speaker Sun had the crowd laughing and cheering as she talked about the critical importance of self-confidence for women.
- The child of Vietnamese immigrants, Sun worked for 11 years at consulting firm McKinsey & Company. During a year-long sabbatical from the firm, she decided to launch her own fashion company to help other professional women look and feel confident.
- “My 22-year-old self was told that I didn’t have any gravitas; it spurred me to action,” said Sun, referencing the origin of her company’s name. “McKinsey just came out with their ‘Women in the Workplace’ study. Women were the reason that we got through this pandemic … [but] traditional HR structures will not value the things that we did: empathy, relationship building … We have to give ourselves credit first.”
The reactions: The social media response was excited and optimistic—and often just plain proud!
So excited to see @TheMfgInstitute @ShopFloorNAM honor Chief Scientific Officer Ashley Daugherty for her company leadership. She is blazing trails for women in manufacturing – and lifting women up as she climbs! pic.twitter.com/sTGrNZjbwU
— Nephron Pharmaceuticals (@NephronPharm) November 4, 2021
Erika Peterman, BASF’s Senior Vice President – Chemical Intermediates North America spoke to the 2020 & 2021 STEP Ahead award recipients and shared her insights as a female leader in manufacturing on how she has navigated through major inflection points in her career. #MFGWomen pic.twitter.com/Uo5VYv3gRC
— BASF North America (@BASFCorporation) November 4, 2021
— ABB Motors and Drives US (@ABBMotorsMechUS) November 4, 2021
— GrapplingBilly (@GrapplingBilly) November 4, 2021
The last word: As Lee told the honorees, “The ripple effect of your example goes a long way—strengthening our industry and changing our world.”
For Ashley Daugherty, working in manufacturing meant being able to examine complex processes from beginning to end. The appeal of this sort of analysis drove her from undergraduate internships in chemical manufacturing to a master’s degree and then a Ph.D. Today, that same sense of excitement continues to fuel her work as the chief scientific officer for Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation.
A pioneer in the industry: When she began her career in manufacturing, Daugherty quickly encountered a very male-dominated industry, but she refused to let that stand in her way. In fact, she saw an opportunity to help make the manufacturing sector more diverse and inclusive.
- “In all my internships, all my leads and bosses were male,” said Daugherty. “When I went to grad school, there was not one female tenured professor. I wanted to make an impact.”
A critical role: Through her work and education, Daugherty has been at the leading edge of some of the most important medical efforts of the modern era, from anticancer therapeutics to antiviral treatments that combat HIV. In her role at Nephron, she helps produce inhalation medications for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and has helped hospitals facing shortages of important medications get the supplies they need.
- “Seeing the direct impact of medication that could be used for the most advanced diseases and being a part of that—the impact on patients—is important to me,” said Daugherty.
Testing, testing: In the midst of the global pandemic, Daugherty also worked with Nephron to create COVID-19 testing facilities for all employees. Within weeks, the project was up and running, and today, the clinical lab offers COVID-19 testing with same-day results to all Nephron employees, as well as universities and major businesses across the state.
An example to others: The Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education partner of the NAM—recently recognized Daugherty as one of the 2021 STEP Ahead Award honorees. The award is presented to women leaders in science, technology, engineering and production careers who exemplify leadership within their companies and in manufacturing in general.
Words of wisdom: Daugherty encourages other women to make a career in manufacturing, even if they might not have considered it previously. She also advises them to “be persistent.” “Don’t ever give up on your end goal and keep pushing until you get there.”
What a blast! The West Columbia, South Carolina, tour stop of the Creators Wanted Live mobile experience drew hundreds of participants, getting job seekers and students excited about careers in manufacturing.
What went on: With inspirational talks and visits from public figures and well-known business leaders, the second stop on the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute’s cross-country trip drew plenty of attention. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster stopped by to try out the project’s immersive mobile experience, and others, including Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation President, CEO and Owner Lou Kennedy and Trane Technologies Plant Manager Gregg Krick, gave students heartfelt, inspirational talks about the rewards of manufacturing careers.
The reaction: The NAM and MI team in charge of the tour captured some of the excited reaction to these events on video. Here are just a few clips to give you a taste.
Donte Jackson, a senior at Airport High School in West Columbia, South Carolina, was pleasantly surprised by the teamwork it took to complete the mobile experience challenges:
Dr. Cindye Richburg Cotton, Executive Director of the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center in West Columbia, South Carolina, talks about her students’ positive reactions to the mobile experience:
“The Creators Wanted mobile experience sealed the deal” for Airport High School 11th grader Kenneth Pearson:
Chatting with Trane Technologies representatives, Airport High School students Donte Jackson, Lamont Taylor and Kenneth Pearson discover some of the exciting (and well-paying!) positions on offer in manufacturing:
“I think this is an awesome opportunity for them to see what’s out there.” Hear more from Mike Harlen, a teacher at Lexington 2 Innovation Center in Cayce, South Carolina:
What’s communication got to do with it? As it turns out, a lot! Airport High School senior Lamont Taylor talks about what he learned from the mobile experience:
There’s more: Creators Wanted is less than a week away from its third tour stop in Pella, Iowa. RSVP today to reserve your spot!
Introductions to manufacturers, an immersive-experience walkthrough and panel discussions with local leaders—the West Columbia, South Carolina, tour stop of the Creators Wanted Live mobile experience had all that and more.
Last week’s series of events marked the second stop on the tour’s six-city cross-country jaunt designed by the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, to inspire and educate future manufacturers. The events brought out public figures, including South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey, as well as business leaders, including Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation President, CEO and Owner Lou Kennedy, Trane Technologies Plant Manager Gregg Krick and South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan.
Among the activities in the three-day West Columbia stop were:
- Creators’ “Office Hours,” where students had a chance to meet team members at Trane Technologies, Honda and Nephron Pharmaceuticals and learn more about working at these companies and in modern manufacturing;
- Creators Conversation, in person and broadcast live on Facebook, where students and teachers from West Columbia and around the country gained insights into how to pursue a manufacturing career; and
- Tours of the mobile experience for students from local schools, including Longleaf Middle School, Lexington 2 Innovation Center, Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center, Lake Marion High School and Technology Center and New Hope Leadership Academy. Afterward, representatives from Nephron, Trane Technologies and Honda talked to students about the opportunities available in manufacturing, and PTC demonstrated the possibility of augmented reality.
See the stop: Photos and videos from the West Columbia events show how much energy was in the air. Below, attendees at the premier event pose in front of the mobile experience:
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons wraps up the kickoff event with some inspiring personal stories.
High-school students show their excitement after touring the mobile experience.
Families get to the final room of the mobile experience together and are stopped in their tracks by the PTC augmented reality technology, which helps students and parents understand the career paths in manufacturing.
Students hold up cards that show how long it took them to complete the challenges in the Creators Wanted Tour Live mobile experience. They’re pretty speedy—a great sign for their future careers!
And last, students talk about the impact the tour is making, showing that perceptions are changing thanks to Creators Wanted.
The reach: These photos only capture a fraction of the excitement and activity surrounding the tour. All in all, approximately 500 students participated in the West Columbia Creators Wanted Tour Live events last week. More than 16,000 students, parents and others interested in manufacturing careers in South Carolina signed up to follow the Creators Wanted campaign online, and the broadcasted Creators Conversation reached more than 1,000 people on the opening day of the tour stop.
Telling tweets: Political and business leaders also championed the tour on social media.
Gov. McMaster applauded Nephron Pharmaceuticals and Creators Wanted for showing jobseekers the many opportunities available in manufacturing:
The Creators Wanted campaign and @NephronPharm are showing our young people and job seekers how to take the first steps into the manufacturing industry.
Thank you, Lou Kennedy, for showcasing all of the opportunities that are available in this growing industry. pic.twitter.com/GPItTXS5dq
— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) October 20, 2021
Lt. Gov. Evette posted about her visit to Creators Wanted and shared some photos …
What a fantastic day joining with @NephronPharm, @ShopFloorNAM, and @TheMfgInstitute for the ceremonial kickoff and celebration of the Creators Wanted Mobile Experience National Tour. pic.twitter.com/desbUrFljQ
— Pamela Evette (@PamelaEvette) October 21, 2021
… while Nephron Pharmaceuticals posted some photos of Secretary Lightsey in the mobile experience and thanked him for visiting.
Thank you @SCcommerce Secretary Harry Lightsey for visiting Nephron!@Lulunephron was pumped to give the secretary a preview of @ShopFloorNAM @TheMfgInstitute Creators Wanted workforce development exhibit! pic.twitter.com/GcvPfeLp7X
— Nephron Pharmaceuticals (@NephronPharm) October 19, 2021
And NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy—and Chief Strategist for the tour—Chrys Kefalas caught some serious excitement about manufacturing:
Best part of last week: hearing from the students how excited they were by the #CreatorsWanted experience & about their newfound interest in manufacturing. It kept happening. Makes you feel like this campaign is about their future, instead of just an industry’s. #WeWontStop pic.twitter.com/F6ObigYhyH
— Chrys Kefalas (@CKefalas) October 25, 2021
“What we witnessed on the ground was exactly what we were hoping to achieve,” said Kefalas. “Student after student kept saying they learned a lot and—and this is big—want to go work for Nephron Pharmaceuticals and Honda and other modern manufacturers like Trane Technologies. A high school athlete told me ‘this is the place’ when talking about Nephron. Teachers said to us ‘lights went on.’”
Media responds: News outlets far and wide reported on the West Columbia tour stop and the Creators Wanted project in general.
- CNN interviewed Timmons.
- Locally, coverage included stories by WACH FOX 57, WSPA 7 News, WBTW News 13, Columbia Regional Business Report, Carolina News (the campus news network for the University of South Carolina), The Lexington Ledger and the Lexington County Chronicle, as well as repeated media hits across all Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates.
- Op-eds by Trane Technologies Executive Chair and NAM Board Chair Mike Lamach and Kennedy in the Greenville News and by Morgan in The Post and Courier rounded out the media blitz.
The final say: The Creators Wanted Tour Live is as timely as it is educational, MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee said last week. With more than 900,000 jobs open in manufacturing, the tour “is part of a larger campaign that couldn’t come at a more important time for manufacturing and this country.”
This week, the Creators Wanted Tour Live continued to disseminate its timely message: Manufacturing jobs are rewarding, well-paying and fun—and perhaps now more than ever, they need qualified people to fill them.
The tour, a project of the NAM and its workforce-development partner, The Manufacturing Institute, is on its second stop in West Columbia, South Carolina, through today. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster stopped by on Wednesday, and yesterday, some more big names turned out to greet students, parents and teachers and talk about the nation’s need for more creators.
Big challenge: “The challenge is truly significant,” MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee said at the event. “We have over 900,000 jobs open in manufacturing today.”
- Creators Wanted, the program of which the mobile experience is a part, aims to help close the skills gap through the recruitment of 600,000 workers by 2025, Lee said.
- Creators Wanted also seeks to increase by 25% the number of students enrolled in technical and vocational education and upskilling programs.
Big reward: NAM board member and Nephron Pharmaceuticals Owner and CEO Lou Kennedy, host of the West Columbia tour stop, actively recruited the job seekers in the audience.
- “What I hope you’ll learn from your experience as you go through this super-cool truck behind me is that manufacturing is a new way to make money, and great money,” Kennedy said, gesturing to the Creators Wanted mobile experience. “The average wage at Nephron is over $73,000 a year, so these are great-paying jobs.… We hope that you’ll be inspired today to join us or join my friends at other companies across South Carolina.”
“The first option”: South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette echoed Kennedy’s hopes for the event’s audience—and said that perceptions about manufacturing and technical career paths are changing for the better.
- “Going to technical school is not a second-tier option anymore,” Lt. Gov. Evette said. “It is the first option for most of the students coming out of high school.… Thank you for being here today. Your eye is on the prize, and the prize is manufacturing here in South Carolina.”
A place for everyone: South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan and Trane Technologies plant manager Gregg Krick underscored the health of the manufacturing sector in South Carolina.
- “The state of manufacturing in South Carolina is strong,” Morgan said.
- Said Krick, who “start[ed] on the plant floor” at heating, cooling and ventilation-system maker Trane Technologies, “If you’re wondering if manufacturing is the place for you, take it from me—there is a place for you in manufacturing.”
The last word: Rounding out the program was NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, who reiterated the need for applicants in manufacturing—and shared an anecdote from his family history.
- During the Great Depression, “my grandfather left his family farm and … stood in line every day for six months” to get a manufacturing job. He finally landed one due, Timmons said, to sheer perseverance.
- “Today you don’t have to do that,” Timmons said. “You can look around and see what jobs are most exciting to you, and you can fill out an application and you can get hired.… According to the MI and Deloitte, we will have 4 million manufacturing jobs to fill between now and 2030.… These aren’t just numbers—these are opportunities. Manufacturing jobs are opportunities to earn not just a great living with excellent benefits; they’re also an opportunity to have fun.”
In the news: The second stop of the tour continues to receive widespread attention, with Fox 57 capturing student and teacher reactions to the campaign.
The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America hasn’t let COVID-19 slow it down. To the contrary, it has expanded and added new features in 2021 in order to prepare more members of the military community for manufacturing careers.
“The work we’re doing aligns so well with what our manufacturers are prioritizing,” says MI Vice President of Military and Veterans Programs Babs Chase. “We are continuing to serve a community that has sacrificed so much and will continue to sacrifice. We truly appreciate the manufacturers that are standing beside us.”
Growth during a pandemic: Heroes, which works with local technical colleges to provide certification and career-readiness preparation, increased its impact in the past year and has now placed graduates with more than 250 companies in 42 states.
- Training programs at Fort Riley in Kansas, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Campbell in Kentucky continue to grow, and Heroes will soon launch a new training site in Georgia.
- In August, Heroes graduated the first class of its new Fort Hood mechatronics training program, which combines electrical and mechanical engineering and computer technology with advanced manufacturing.
Going virtual: This month, thanks to the support of the Caterpillar Foundation, Heroes is officially launching a fully remote training program in a synchronous model that will incorporate hands-on simulations using virtual reality.
- The new program is a partnership with Texas State Technical College and New York City–based tech startup TRANSFR, and will allow transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses to participate in Heroes regardless of their physical location—so long as they have access to Wi-Fi.
Connecting with Heroes: 2021 is also the second year of Heroes Connect, the program’s direct response to COVID-19. This virtual platform facilitates introductions between the manufacturing industry and military-community members seeking jobs.
- In-person tours have always been a cornerstone of the Heroes program, and Heroes Connect provides another avenue for those essential introductions to manufacturing leaders and veterans already in the industry. Even as Heroes restarts in-person tours, Heroes Connect will remain a vital part of the initiative, says Chase.
As she put it, “Heroes Connect is continuing to break down barriers around physical location, showcasing manufacturers all across the country for Heroes participants as well as the greater military community.”
Diversity data: By the end of 2021, more than 625 students will have graduated since Heroes’ inception in 2018. These students are as diverse as the career opportunities available in manufacturing:
- The graduates represent more than 136 different military occupational specialties.
- Nearly half of all graduates (47%) come from minority populations.
- Approximately 16% are women.
- Only 47% of alumni have any post-secondary education.
- Forty-one percent of graduates were in the military for 10 years or more.
Success stories: The Heroes program boasts too many success stories to recount in one place, but here are just two:
- Former U.S. Marine Zachary Willis came to Heroes after health issues led to his departure from the military. “It’s been amazing,” said Willis, who earlier this year began a manufacturing job at Hodgdon Powder Company. “The ability to reach out and connect with other employers all around the country—from smaller companies to huge international corporations—is something you don’t see in very many places. I wish more people took advantage of programs like this.”
- Then there’s Hugo Hinojosa, who served 22 years in the U.S. Army before starting the Heroes program. He now works as a business partner in the human resources division of WestRock Company, and says, “I’m working in a place where the values are in line with what I was brought up with in the military—integrity, respect, accountability and excellence.”
The final say: “For our team, serving the military population is crucial,” Chase said. “But equally vital is our service to manufacturers—and they recognize the value that this population brings to their teams.”
Are you looking for a retirement plan that fits your needs and workforce? There’s good news: the NAM is rolling out the Manufacturers Retirement & Savings Plan—a 401(k) plan designed specifically for manufacturers across the country.
The scope: The Manufacturers Retirement & Savings Plan is a multiple employer plan available to all NAM members, designed to cover more than 14,000 companies and associations. Companies of all sizes can participate, creating new financial opportunities and offering retirement security to the millions of men and women who make things in America.
The provider: The NAM selected Principal Financial Group® and HUB International LLC as the service providers. Principal Financial Group® is one of the largest retirement solutions providers in the United States, and HUB International is a leading North American insurance brokerage. Together, they will offer business owners and employees access to dedicated professionals who can offer guidance and assist with the day-to-day management of retirement plans.
The benefit: Offering benefits like 401(k) plans is a critical way for manufacturers to attract and retain talented employees, especially at a time of unprecedented job openings. But creating and operating a retirement plan can be expensive and time-consuming, imposing barriers for small and medium-sized companies. By creating an association-sponsored plan, the NAM is helping members across the board ensure efficiency, reduce risks and manage costs effectively all while improving retirement outcomes for employees and helping employers free up time and money. And with National Benefit Services engaged to administer the new plan, transitioning is simple as well.
What we’re saying: “Manufacturers want their employees to feel safe and secure about their financial well-being and to have confidence that they will be able to retire when they are ready,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “But operating a 401(k) plan can be challenging—especially for smaller companies. We can help with this—I’m proud that the NAM now offers our members access to best-in-class benefits for their teams.”
The Creators Wanted campaign was created to recruit new talent, change perceptions about modern manufacturing and inspire the next generation of creators. Starting this week, the Creators Wanted Tour Live began visiting cities around the country to bring that message directly to Americans. The first stop: Columbus, Ohio.
The Tour Live features a series of escape rooms mounted on a mobile unit, with challenges that are intended to show participants how modern manufacturing actually works—and to be fun at the same time. During its four days in Columbus this week, more than 350 students got to participate, from Canal Winchester High School, Horizons Science Academy, Mechanicsburg School (Entertainment Tech), Sunrise Academy, Marysville Early College High School, Southwestern Career Academy and Millennium Community School.
The tour stop in Columbus also featured a number of exhibits and demonstrations, including opportunities to:
- Meet and ask questions of associates at Honda, the tour’s official mobility sponsor, as well as see some of its cutting-edge vehicles;
- Try out augmented reality technology from PTC;
- Explore activations by The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Columbus State Community College and diversified metal manufacturer Worthington Industries;
- Take part in a Creators Connect forum with creators at Honda, Abbott and Worthington Industries; and
- Interact with Creators Connect, a new NAM and MI tool in beta testing, which matches people interested in manufacturing careers with pathways to achieve them.
A tour of the tour: The photos and videos from the Columbus events give you a taste of the excitement. Here, a few students begin the experience at the PTC AR demonstration:
Here are some students trying out the escape room and using the sort of creative thinking required for a manufacturing career:
Below, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons takes a look at one of the Honda automobiles that were on display.
The satisfied “smizing” of some successful manufacturers-in-training:
NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas, and the chief strategist of the campaign, caught up with some students to see what they thought of the experience.
The short answer?
— Chrys Kefalas (@CKefalas) October 6, 2021
The reception: The tour stop in Columbus created a splash, receiving coverage in the press and attention from state and U.S. officials. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) put in a plug for Creators Wanted, encouraging students and parents to check out the tour.
— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) October 5, 2021
Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted spoke at one of the events, urging students to pursue creative careers:
"You can learn to do anything, and there is a place for you to do that in Ohio where we will help you make sure that you have the skills to live whatever dream you have."
— Lt. Governor Jon Husted (@LtGovHusted) October 6, 2021
Meanwhile, News 5 Cleveland, Cleveland.com (subscription) and ABC 6 Columbus covered the Creators Wanted stop, while Good Morning Columbus (FOX 28) and Good Morning Cleveland (ABC 5) broadcast segments about the events.
The reach: The digital and media campaign around the Columbus tour stop also had a big impact, with more than 404,000 impressions, 4,200 clicks and 111,000 video views. It’s also on its way to more than 10,000 email signups from individuals interested in manufacturing career paths.
The last word: As Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee said at one of the events, “The challenge is significant: we have nearly 900,000 open jobs in manufacturing today—a new record. The promise is real: there can be many more people earning great livings and creating our future working in manufacturing in the United States.”
The NAM and the MI’s Creators Wanted initiative has rolled out a new online game for students, teachers, parents, guidance counselors and emerging workers nationwide. The “Making the Future” experience is a choose-your-own-adventure video that helps gamers think better of modern manufacturing.
The details: The experience aims to address misperceptions about the industry and to connect with today’s tech-savvy student and job seeker. With the ability to choose levels of difficulty and navigate the interactive experience differently based on choices and answers, gamers will bust myths, crack codes and solve problems to earn their badges as creators.
Familiar approach: The game is using the “learn by doing” philosophy at the core of the in-person Creators Wanted mobile experience to excite and educate potential manufacturers and individuals who influence career choices about the growth, reward and opportunity in the industry, as well as the talents and attributes that are a part of manufacturing careers.
Creators Wanted tour anywhere: “Where the mobile experience can’t be physically, we figured out a way to replicate it into a digital experience for anyone across the country to access,” said NAM Senior Vice President of Communications and Brand Strategy Erin Streeter. “We’ve designed this entire campaign to meet people where they are with the right messages and at the right times.”
Access point: The new interactive game is now live on the CreatorsWanted.org website. It represents another major development by the NAM and MI teams to broaden the reach and impact of the Creators Wanted campaign beyond in-person tour stops and COVID-19 crowd limitations.
Last word: “We’re sharing comprehensive online tools that not only get the next generation of talent excited but also teach them how to take the next step and become a manufacturer,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “These tools are ideal for manufacturers, teachers, parents, government officials … really anyone who wants to help kids and emerging workers see how they can create their future in America. We hope manufacturers will share these resources with education partners and their teams, so they can share with kids and job seekers.”