Busted: Debunking the Myths of Manufacturing
How well do you know fact from fiction when it comes to manufacturing?

Myth: There aren’t enough job openings in manufacturing.
Busted: Over the next decade, nearly 3½ million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap. Manufacturing is the 6th largest employer in the US.

Myth: Manufacturing doesn’t pay well.
Busted: Starting average salary is $29 per hour and $77,000 per year, and that often includes great medical benefits and long term job security.

Myth: Manufacturing means repetitive, boring work for those without an education.
Busted: Scientists, engineers, certified technicians, sales and more make up a collaborative team environment that includes daily challenges and problem solving to best serve customers.

Did you think some of those myths were true? You aren’t alone. This is why the first Friday of October is set aside as Manufacturing Day in the U.S. with the goal of educating students and communities on the needs, benefits and modernized career opportunities in this economically strong industry. For the third consecutive year, Bishop-Wisecarver Group (BWG) opened its doors to the community in an effort to highlight the “real” life of manufacturing. Employees from a wide range of job functions helped dispel the myths and showcased the numerous opportunities students could consider.

This year, BWG actually had two Manufacturing Days as there were so many people wanting to attend the tours. We hosted groups on October 7 and October 29 and visitors included high school students from the East Bay and Silicon Valley, national and local manufacturing group officers, elected officials and community members. Sessions included a plant tour, 3D printer demonstration and a panel discussion which included a Q&A with employees.

Mt. Diablo High School
More than 25 students joined from Mt. Diablo High School in Concord, Calif. and teacher Karen Lowande said these types of opportunities make an impact that helps students in the long term. “The most beneficial reason for bringing my students to events like this is to introduce them to opportunities they didn’t know about and inspire them to do well in their classes in order to reach new goals.”

Students ranked their top activities as talking with the employees and understanding the variety of jobs available in manufacturing, such as marketing, sales and production. They also enjoyed seeing the 3D printer in action.

Did it make a difference for the students? In their own words:
“The best part of this field trip was I got to experience new things.”

“I see myself making robots.”

Women in Manufacturing
Pamela Kan, president of Bishop-Wisecarver Group, spoke to students on the first tour day and helped dispel many of the myths around manufacturing. Her presence alone proved that women do have a place in the manufacturing industry and it’s not a male only world.

While only 27% of the current manufacturing force is women, the number is growing and Kan mentioned the many ways she leads BWG in community efforts that promote this growth. From sponsoring FIRST robotics groups, donating money and parts to the national FIRST program, sponsoring STEAM Summits for girls and serving as mentors and judges at science fairs, BWG is working to increase the number of women in the industry.

Kan told students, “Women are making great strides in STEM markets and their impact is making a difference. Manufacturing is an extremely creative and technology based industry that always has something new to learn – you will never get bored!”

Manufacturing in California
While citing important manufacturing data to prove the truth of manufacturing, Kan also showed the strength of the industry in California. The state has the most manufacturing jobs in the U.S. It employs 7.9% of the overall workforce, and the average manufacturing salary in California was more than $92,000 ($15,000 higher than the national average.)

California State Assembly Recognition
One of those attending the event was Erica Rodriguez-Langley, Deputy District Director from the Office of Assemblymember Jim Frazier. She presented BWG with a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of Jim Frazier, highlighting BWG’s support of Manufacturing Day, which provides support and benefits to fellow Californians.

Frazier’s office noted that California manufacturing represents 12% of the national manufacturing gross domestic product, employs more than 1.2 million workers and generates $250 billion in annual economic benefits.

“It was an honor promoting National Manufacturing Day to highlight the importance of manufacturing in the Golden State and to the residents in my Assembly District,” stated Assemblymember Jim Frazier. “It was especially significant for me to recognize a great corporate citizen in our area, the Bishop-Wisecarver Group. This family of companies has spent over 66 years helping lead the manufacturing sector and creating jobs in eastern Contra Costa County and throughout our nation.”

Manufacturing Organizations
Other visitors on the tours included Todd Boppell COO of National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which helps sponsor Manufacturing Day in North America. Also, executives from the Contra Costa Economic Partnership - Kristin Connelly, Executive Director, and Mark Orcutt, Communications and Outreach Manager - attended BWG’s Manufacturing Day events, participated in the tours and talked with students.

Even with so much information to share, personal stories from employees and visitors, and live demonstrations, we didn’t have the chance to bust every myth around manufacturing. But, while Manufacturing Day 2016 may be concluded, the BWG team will keep working with students and our community to distinguish fact from fiction. The effort is always worth it!

View pictures and a video from this year's manufacturing day!

Note: This is the first in a series of blogs highlighting BWG’s Manufacturing Day 2016 events. There were so many great stories to share, we couldn’t include them all in one place. Also, be sure to check out our short MFG DAY video here.