Growing the “Made in the USA” Workforce

In its December 2023 issue, Modern Machine Shop magazine published an open letter to middle and high school-aged kids titled, “An Open Letter to Kids About Machines and the World of Making Things.”

The letter, written in the language teenagers use, advised students to consider participating in their schools’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, and it highlighted the lifestyle and financial advantages of choosing a career in CNC machining.

It’s rare for a manufacturing trade publication to publish an open letter to kids who don’t read their magazines. And considering the dollar value of a full page ad in a print magazine, it doesn’t make sense.

So, why did MMS do it?

They, like most of us in the manufacturing sector, are passionate about the world of making things. They know the type of work we do, and they understand how high-tech our industry is. They, like us, want to eradicate the outdated misconception that machine shops are dirty, unsafe, and offer low wages. They want to encourage young people to consider careers on the shop floor.

Their well-written open letter effectively does this. The kids aren’t likely to see it, but their parents who subscribe to MMS will. And they’ll share it on social media. And it will spark conversations. And isn’t that where change typically begins?

In publishing this letter, MMS used their resources to make an investment in our industry. In machine shops all around the country, manufacturers are doing the same. They’re sponsoring robotics teams, holding open houses, and working with student apprentices. While each of these individual efforts might seem insignificant, collectively they can have a profound, cumulative effect.

For example, our parent company, Sirois Tool, held an open house in October on Manufacturing Day. Afterward, two of the attendees joined apprenticeship programs. One is with Sirois Tool, and the other is with Spring Tool Solutions. If all goes according to plan, they’ll both become excellent machinists. And as former apprentices, they’ll be more likely to invest their time helping new apprentices.

Guiding people into manufacturing is an industry investment that can help reduce the current workforce shortage, but only if those people don’t leave. Providing competitive wages and benefits, opportunities for career growth, and a pleasant environment are keys to keeping them. At Sirois Tool, we’ve added flexible hours. It’s another way to invest in our industry.

Modern Machine Shop published its open letter December 15th, and within two days it was popping up in conversations everywhere. These industry investments are effective. If we keep making them, we’ll soon see more products stamped, “Made In U.S.A.”