When I made the decision to join Kennametal, I did so because I wanted to work for a company that stands apart as one of the most ardent advocates in our industry. Kennametal walks the talk, investing in education for students and employees to advance careers in today’s high-tech manufacturing. These careers remain vital to our nation’s middle class, and the American Dream.
My father and grandfathers spent their working lives at a steel mill in Weirton, West Virginia that was the epitome of the manufacturing “4Ds” in those days: dark, dirty, dull, and dangerous.
But it’s not our grandfathers’ manufacturing anymore. The reality of our industry today is vastly brighter, cleaner, safer — and smarter than ever! If we are to attract the talented people we and our customers need to grow, it’s high time for us to overcome the stigma attached to our industry.
To turn around the perception, we need to understand its origins. Remember the “dot-com” bubble of the 90s? Media and Wall Street analysts heralded the arrival of a “new economy” built on information technology, while slapping an “old economy” kiss-of-death on the manufacturing sector.
Few understood then how the Digital Age actually would revolutionize our industry, and by greater margins of real economic value. In fact, the manufacturing sector stands as the world’s leading investor in R&D, largely driven digitally. That data integration provides the highest economic return on investment of any other industry in the world, including the information technology sector itself. Do you know why? Manufacturers make cool things—real, tangible, essential things like aircraft, smart phones, robots—even replacement organs and joints!
We know this, but the world doesn’t. So it’s up to us to reposition manufacturing as “real economy” industrial technology offering interesting high-paying careers. In the U.S. alone, we have more than half a million jobs available now, and more to come as 2.7 million baby boomers retire from the sector.
The digital revolution in manufacturing is what should make our industry relevant to young people, as long as we help them understand the importance manufacturing holds for wellbeing of people everywhere, every day. To shatter the rust-colored lens through which our industry is seen, we all have to be better marketers, showcasing our work as the ultimate creative pursuit. After all, we create things!
As an industry, we need to make this a marketing movement. But understand that our brand is not about manufacturing. Rather, it’s about advancing humanity, because everything we make empowers people to do amazing things. And that progress ultimately improves the quality and standard of living for more people in more places. The appeal for any young person is the opportunity to make great things that are important because they make a difference in the world, whether it’s helping to develop a fuel-efficient car, or to electrify a community for the first time…Even something as simple as making a better athletic shoe can help all of us leap further and higher.
Ours is an industry that helps people everywhere realize the dream of self-sufficiency and freedom. What’s more rewarding than that?
Does being part of an industry that “makes cool things” interest you?