U.S. News and World Report
By 2025, it’s projected that U.S. manufacturing will have 2 million jobs left empty due to a skills gap. To stem this, schools and companies are working to teach – and attract – high school students.
Dylan Rigdon’s grandfather and father worked in manufacturing their whole lives, but during the Great Recession in the late 2000s, their livelihoods took a hit. His grandfather lost his job. His father saw his paycheck cut.
By the time Rigdon started his freshman year at Seymour High School in Indiana, he wasn’t a big fan of manufacturing. But that changed when Rigdon was introduced to Owl Manufacturing, a student-run manufacturing business based out of the traditional high school.
“When I got to this class, it kind of opened my eyes,” Rigdon, now a senior, says. “Manufacturing is not a bad word anymore. It’s good work to go into. It’s not dirty work. You can get a high-paying job.”
Rigdon’s attitude is one that the manufacturing industry wants to see more often. U.S. manufacturing will need nearly 3.5 million manufacturing workers by 2025, but it’s projected that 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled due to a proficiency gap, according to a 2015 study. These jobs tend to pay well: In 2017, the average manufacturing worker in the U.S. earned more than $27 per hour. The average hourly wage for all occupations in May 2017 was $24.34.