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Rebranding Manufacturing as a Career

Many educators and parents view manufacturing as a declining industry, offering low wages with limited career options. They remember factories closing across the state, leaving many jobless. However, the manufacturing industry has shifted, offering many high-wage, highly skilled positions, yet perceptions remain unchanged. Manufacturing needs to be branded in communities for what the industry is now: a viable career option with long-term stability and growth opportunities.


As you begin to think about how your community might launch a rebranding effort, here are a few key questions to get you started in the right direction:

Champions: Who are the key partners we need to help champion these strategies? Be as specific as possible.

Existing Assets: What existing assets could communities build upon in implementing the alignment strategies?

Resources: If the alignment strategies require new or additional resources, what might they be and where might the community get them?

Barriers: Are there one or two things that could be a barrier to implementing the alignment strategies?


The North Carolina Community College System launched Manufacturing Awareness Week the first week of April 2013 to showcase opportunities for students seeking a career in manufacturing. For more information: Participating community colleges included local industry, students and community college faculty.

The City of Monroe and Union County recently launched a new Manufacturing Awareness Campaign, funded by the private sector encouraging young people to consider manufacturing careers ( In the first phase of the two-year program, the city brought all ten of the county’s high school principals to tour several manufacturing facilities in the area.

The Society of Mechanical Engineers, Education Foundation developed a “Manufacturing is Cool” website. Funded by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation (SME-EF), the goal of the website is to inspire, prepare and support young people for careers in advanced manufacturing with access to real-world people, jobs and technologies. For more information:

The City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin created the Schools2Skills program where it takes high school students on a day-long tour of three manufacturing facilities, engages them in conversations with manufacturing leaders, and shows them the training facilities at the local community college. For more information:

Minnesota’s Effort to Rebrand Manufacturing has involved providing K-12 students tours of local manufacturing companies where they receive information about career opportunities. For more information:

SFMade is a California 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation to build and support a vibrant manufacturing sector in San Francisco, that sustains companies producing locally-made products, encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, and creates employment opportunities for a diverse local workforce. The organization has a workforce and hiring initiative and SFMade offers factory tours throughout the year. Tours focus on a specific neighborhood or a particular industry. For more information:

Mass-TEC, a collaboration of Quinsigamond Community College and its partners, was formed to increase enrollment in manufacturing related courses and change the perception of manufacturing among educators, parents, students and the community. Mass-TEC received a $750,000 National Science Foundation grant to focus on a public awareness and marketing campaign aimed at all people who influence a student’s career decision making process. For more information:

Action Statuses  (1)

Leslie Keena,

I am working to identify a group that will work with me on this issue by adding different connections to a local database in my community.