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It’s graduation time, meaning that many young people are faced with that burning question: “Well … now what?”

Some of the lucky college grads already have jobs lined up or at least a clear path for their next move. That’s great! But for plenty of others, the end of college means moving back home, often with a load of student debt and no solid career prospects on the horizon.  There are also plenty of high school students (and their parents) doing a whole lot of number crunching, wondering how they’ll ever afford four years at a major university.

Cerasis’ VP-New Business Development and Co-Founder Steve Norall recently posed a question on AMT’s LinkedIn group: Why, in your opinion, should high schoolers and recent college grads consider a career in manufacturing?

My (expanded) comments are below:

1. There is PLENTY of opportunity! Manufacturers have a need and they are hiring. The lack of skilled workers in the United States has been well-documented, with some saying there are more than 300,000 jobs currently unfilled because employers simply can’t find qualified workers to fill them. Jobs are available, and they are abundant.

manufacturing careers for grads2. Educational partnerships are expanding. Manufacturers are increasingly growing their partnerships with their local technical schools and community colleges to bring students in as part-time employees (apprentices or interns) while they earn their degree. In many cases, they are kicking in money for tuition. It’s a great way to get an education, start a job, and keep away from heavy student loan debt. Additionally, some companies will even continue tuition assistance for those looking to go on to a four-year degree.

3. You get to “bring ideas to life” and solve problems by making things. Forget sitting at a desk all day. These are jobs where you’re using your head and your hands. You’ll actually see an idea go from concept to reality, and figure out ways to make products lighter, faster, more precise, better.

4. It’s not the “same old thing” day in and day out. Again, forget about repetitive and boring. Manufacturing offers plenty of challenges that change day by day. You get to try new things using some of the world’s most advanced technology. These aren’t jobs where you’re screwing together a nut and bolt all day. Manufacturing is a world of multimillion dollar machines, advanced materials, and new technology evolving and developing all the time.

5. There are many opportunities for growth and development. See above about the need for skilled workers. These are the workers who become shop floor managers, chief engineers, and beyond!

6. While you’re at it, tell them to come to the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS this fall! There’s no doubt that IMTS is the must-attend event for manufacturing in North America – September 8-13 in Chicago. This year’s Smartforce Student Summit will be bigger than ever, with keynote speakers and plenty of hands-on exhibits for students, educators and parents to get a first-hand look at today’s manufacturing industry. Learn more at, or follow us on Twitter – @IMTS_summit. We’re also at and

Developing the “Smartforce of tomorrow” is one of AMT’s key initiatives as it is vital for U.S. manufacturing’s ability to compete on a global stage. If you’ve also got a passion for manufacturing, why not share it with the younger generation? The future of our industry will rely on those who can carry the torch.

Penelope Brown is the MTAdvocacy Manager for AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology, McLean, Va. View AMT’s blog, The MFG Advocate, at Follow on Twitter @penelopemb, @AMTonline, @IMTS_2014, and @IMTS_summit