Happy MFG Day! Spoiler Alert: We Celebrated Early

Today is MFG Day, one of my favorite annual events – the first Friday in October and the day when thousands of manufacturers around the U.S. host events in their local communities to educate students and parents alike about the exciting potential of a career in manufacturing. As a workforce management and HCM technology partner to more than 4,000 manufacturing organizations, Kronos has been actively involved in MFG Day for six years, both as a sponsor and event co-host. 

If you aren’t familiar with MFG Day, it’s a great time to educate yourself and get involved, I recommend checking out the recent blog post, Battling the Skills Gap – Manufacturing Day Helps Usher in New Talent written by my colleague, Heather Badower.

Speaking of Heather, she and I went on an adventure earlier this week to Moline, IL to participate in an incredible event to celebrate MFG Day and inspire the next generation workforce. 


Manufacturing EXPO in Moline, IL Attracts 340+ Students

For MFG Day 2019, Kronos partnered with the Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois Sector Board to co-host an invitation-only event on Tuesday, October 1 at Black Hawk College in Moline, for eighth-grade students to showcase what a future career in manufacturing could look like. 

The event was a tremendous success, drawing more than 340 students from local schools, as well as local TV news coverage. The highlight of the event was most certainly the interactive sessions, such as a Virtual Reality (VR) Welding Simulator, facilitated by these regional educational institutions and manufacturing companies:

  • Eastern Iowa Community College
  • HNI Corporation
  • John Deere
  • KONE
  • M.A. Ford
  • Quad City Manufacturing Laboratory together with Western Illinois University
  • RILCO Inc.
  • Sears Seating
  • SSAB

Mfg Day Part 2_Image 1.jpg


So, What Do 8th Graders Think About Manufacturing?

During the Manufacturing EXPO, Heather and I had the opportunity to speak to all of 340 students when we led nineteen 15-minute sessions to talk about the many reasons why a career in manufacturing should be considered.

Before we shared our perspective, at the beginning of each session, we asked each student to write down on a sticky note a word or phrase that comes to mind when they think about manufacturing. We did this for all nineteen sessions so received a lot of interesting answers. When I got back to my office in Lowell, MA I posted as many as I could fit on my white board and did an inventory of key themes. 

Mfg Day Part 2_Image 2.jpg

There were some common responses written by most students, so I’ll share those with you first:

  • Factories
  • Making stuff/Creating things/Building (things or stuff)
  • Mechanics, Machines, Robots
  • Man/people
  • Designing things
  • Engineering

Here were some less-common responses but still shared by multiple students:

  • Technology
  • Science
  • Math
  • It’s cool
  • Fun
  • Amazing
  • STEM (written as STEM)
  • Good pay
  • Challenging
  • Complicated
  • Marketing and/or Selling


And these were some of the more detailed and insightful responses:

  • “Hardworking people that we can’t live without”
  • “I think of machines and hard work and all different type of positions in the factory”
  • “Manufacturing is creating things to help the world and people in everyday life”
  • “I really like idea of manufacturing. It provides people with everyday necessities and earlier I tried a welding simulator and loved it.”
  • “Building and designing and overcoming obstacles throughout the process”
  • “I think it’s an important job. I also think it’s harder and more complicated than it seems.”
  • “It’s neat and it’s about creating new inventions to give to the world.”


Just for fun, these were the most amusing responses (each written once):

  • Boring 
  • Robotic turtles 
  • Giving birth to random things

What Does This Mean for the Future of Manufacturing?

Based on the above responses from the students and the enthusiasm observed first-hand, I’m extremely hopeful about the future. It seems initiatives like MFG Day are working to educate students about the various career possibilities in manufacturing. More than 340 students from schools in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois were exposed to the world of modern manufacturing this week. And many walked away with a newfound appreciation for the importance of manufacturing to the economy and the impact the industry has on our lives. And at least one of them left feeling this way (according to their sticky note):

“I think manufacturing is amazing, I really like it, and I will become a manufacturer.”

By the Way, Time Clocks Are…Cool

As part of our interactive session, we had the students punch in and out on a Kronos InTouch time clock with a proximity card reader. Our message to them was simple: if you do work in manufacturing someday it’s very likely you may come across workforce management technology. Kronos is there to make sure you get paid correctly,” (which they all agreed was very important). The students thought it was fun to use the clock, were fascinated by the technology, wanting to know how the proximity reader worked. Also, the kids really wanted to keep the badges but since we had to reuse in each of the nineteen sessions, we couldn’t accommodate the request. Thankfully we were able to make up for it with a Kronos-branded fidget cube.

To learn additional actions your organization can take to attract the next generation workforce, check out the webinar...

5 Steps Manufacturers Must Take to Engage the Gen Z Workforce

Published: Friday, October 4, 2019