Increased Potential for Manufacturing Jobs in Mid-Michigan

Manufacturing, particularly automotive manufacturing, in the greater Lansing region isn’t a new concept, and it isn’t going anywhere. Not only is it here to stay but, the manufacturing industry as a whole makes up a large number of our region’s jobs.

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data series found that of the 152,940 private employment jobs in the Lansing-East Lansing Metropolitan Statistical Area, 19,440 jobs are concentrated in the manufacturing industry, totaling about 12.7 percent.

The industry may not be where it was during the third quarter of 2001, but it’s showing promising growth.

The State of Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) shared that the capital area’s manufacturing industry grew from 14,250 jobs in the third quarter of 2009 to 19,443 jobs in the third quarter of 2014, totaling about 27.1 percent. This growth is larger than the 8.3 percent growth of private payrolls in our region over the same period of time, and may also shed some light on how much of our manufacturing industry was affected during the recession.

The number of jobs in the manufacturing industry isn’t the only appealing factor for job seekers. Manufacturing establishments

account for 18.5 percent of total wages in the third quarter of 2014, according to the State of Michigan DTMB.

A majority of the manufacturing industry in the greater Lansing region is transportation equipment manufacturing, at 43 percent of total manufacturing employment. However, Lansing’s manufacturing industry isn’t just automotive, as some folks may think. There are various types of positions manufacturers can explore such as fabricated metal product manufacturing, machinery manufacturing and chemical manufacturing.

Having a thriving industry is a great asset to the greater Lansing region, but the success is limited without an adequate number of qualified employees to fill the necessary job positions.

One way to make sure employers have the number of employees they want is by increasing the awareness of manufacturing being an in-demand industry and the types of requirements needed for the available jobs.

The Capital Area Manufacturing Council is playing a role by trying to increase awareness with its recent Michigan Manufacturing Connect initiative. The initiative, made possible through a partnership with WLNS-TV6, features nine local manufacturers, the Ingham Intermediate School District and Lansing Community College, and exposes both the demand for manufacturing and eliminates common
manufacturing myths.

While addressing the shortage of manufacturing workers now is vital, it’s important to start preparing the manufacturing workers of the future. We can work toward making sure we have the necessary workers for the future of the industry by instilling the importance of STEM education at an early age. The sooner we make sure children are engaged in STEM education, the better off the future is of not only in the manufacturing industry, but in other in-demand occupations. Currently, Quarterly Workforce Indicators data from the second quarter of 2014 reported that women only make up approximately 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce. This statistic emphasizes the importance of guiding both males and females in the direction of STEM careers at an early age.

Also tying into having adequate STEM education and teaching young students about the opportunities in the manufacturing industry is the need for requirements for manufacturing positions.

About 30 percent of the individuals in the manufacturing workforce in the greater Lansing region hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to Quarterly Workforce Indicators data from the second quarter of 2014. And although a bachelor’s degree isn’t mandatory for every position, most positions in the industry have some sort of training or education requirement. For some job seekers, these types of requirements may steer them away from the open positions, but with the help of our community partners and employers, we can better inform them about available programs and outcomes of
completing them.

The manufacturing industry has made progress over the years, and now is the time to make sure we have an educated workforce to help the automotive industry, and the manufacturing industry as a whole, continue growing in the greater Lansing region.

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