“The most important thing we can do is show young people, teachers and parents what modern manufacturing looks like and introduce them to those working in manufacturing to show the wide range of career paths.”
Todd Boppell, Chief Operating Officer, National Association of Manufacturers

This quote summarizes the importance of events like Manufacturing Day and their potential for long-lasting impact. Bishop-Wisecarver hosted two Manufacturing Day events late last year and wanted to share comments from a Q&A we had with Todd Boppell, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

Todd BoppellNAM is the nation’s largest industrial trade association and the leading voice for the manufacturing sector in the United States. While splitting time between Washington, D.C. and his home in southern California, Todd Boppell stopped by the Bishop-Wisecarver event to participate in Manufacturing Day activities, talk with the students and see first-hand what they were learning and thinking.

Q: The NAM provides numerous statistics about the manufacturing industry. What do you think are the most important numbers for people to understand? What do you think most surprises people?
TB: $81,289: In 2015, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $81,289 annually, including pay and benefits. The average worker in all nonfarm industries earned $63,830.
3.5 million: Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap.
Nine: Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the ninth-largest economy in the world. With $2.1 trillion in value added from manufacturing in 2014, only eight other nations (including the United States) would rank higher in terms of their GDP.

People are often surprised that manufacturing jobs are high tech and high skilled and pay above average.

Q: There is an obvious shortage of manufacturing workers in the pipeline. How is the NAM working with businesses, schools and communities to help increase the number of potential employees?
TB: Alongside our Manufacturing Institute, we equip schools with the knowledge and tools to expand students’ horizons and demonstrate the opportunities in modern manufacturing. We partner with our member companies so they can be ambassadors in their communities. The most important thing we can do is show young people, teachers and parents what modern manufacturing looks like and introduce them to those working in manufacturing to show the wide range of career paths.

Q: How does an event like Manufacturing Day help strengthen the overall manufacturing industry?
TB: It gives students that firsthand look. They might see programmers designing code. They might see 3-D printers at work. They might meet designers. They might see young people excited about using their technical training to dream, build and create something tangible, meaningful and life-changing. Seeing, touching and experiencing are much more powerful than just hearing about manufacturing.

And our surveys show that when someone participates in a Manufacturing Day event, he or she is more likely to come away with a more favorable view of manufacturing and is more likely to consider it as a career path.

Q: During your tour of Bishop-Wisecarver, what were some comments you overheard or conversations you had with students that represent the importance of events like Manufacturing Day?
TB: Bishop-Wisecarver held a number of Manufacturing Day events across a few days, and on the day I was there, I was privileged to attend one with some young women who are part of a robotics team the company sponsors. The first thing I was struck with was their raw curiosity. They were crowding in around each machine to hear the explanation of what was being made and how. You could see their understanding of the processes and challenges start to expand, and they asked more detailed questions as they went along—about why things were done a specific way, or how water was recycled, or how a customer uses a specific part. It was terrific to see so many “lightbulbs” going off for each of them.

Q: How did you select Bishop-Wisecarver as a place to visit on Manufacturing Day?
TB: I had met Pamela a number of times, as she serves on the NAM’s Board of Directors, and I had always been impressed with her passion for manufacturing, as well as her history and her strong desire to continue the business her family started and built. I also knew how critical Bishop-Wisecarver’s products are to other manufacturers, and so I was excited to see its factory floor.

Q: Any additional comments?
TB: I think most of us today have a hard time reminding ourselves that almost everything we see around us and interact with every day is made by a manufacturer somewhere. Reconnecting with that idea can produce a sense of awe when you realize so many items from so many factories are in your office, your home, your car, your neighborhood. It is truly a staggering number. I think helping kids realize that every one of those items has a story and a team behind it—from design, to creation, to marketing, to finance and beyond—is what helps them begin to sense the limitless possibilities that manufacturing represents, both for them personally and for the world.