This year’s biggest celebration of manufacturing is coming up soon in October—and manufacturers who want to take part should start planning now.
On MFG Day—Friday, Oct. 6—and throughout the rest of the month, manufacturing companies, community colleges and associations will have their best opportunity to show young people all the industry has to offer them, via factory visits, career fairs and more. So how can companies make the most of it?
Recently, the Manufacturing Institute—the NAM’s 501(c)3 nonprofit workforce development and education affiliate—hosted a webinar to share tips, insights and resources for companies interested in putting on their own MFG Day events.
The participants: The webinar, titled “Making the Most of Your Event,” was hosted by MI Director of Student Engagement Jen White. It included presentations and insights from GenMet Corporation CEO Eric Isbister and American Honda Motor Co. Assistant Manager of Government and Industry Relations Meredith Reffey.
Find your event: Manufacturers can engage in a range of different kinds of events—from career fairs to school visits to challenges and competitions.
- The most common MFG Day event is a facility tour or open house, which allows students, educators and parents to see firsthand the work that manufacturers do every day.
- But whether a manufacturer opens their doors for a tour or designs a “Parents’ Night” for family members, the most important thing is to find an authentic way to connect with community members, the panelists recommended.
- “If you are reaching students and educators, parents, even community members, then you’re … growing awareness of manufacturing and hopefully exciting folks about potentially working in the industry,” said White.
Show yourself: According to Isbister, the first priority of an MFG Day event should simply be to present careers in manufacturing as a viable option for community members.
- “We’ve had over 3,000 students tour here, and our goal … is to let them know that manufacturing exists,” said Isbister. “Most of them don’t, most parents don’t. Most teachers and guidance counselors and school board members don’t have the faintest idea of what we do. And when they walk in the building, their jaws hit the ground, and they’re excited to see things.”
Expand the circle: While engaging students is important, companies should be sure to invite others in the community as well, Isbister said.
- “Don’t just invite students [to your event], but teachers and guidance counselors and administrative people and school board members,” said Isbister. “If you get a student, you got one. If you get a teacher, you got 24. If you get a school board member, you’ve got the person with the pen who can authorize things—and that’s important, too.”
Know your audience: According to Reffey, it’s critical to meet audiences where they are.
- One of the most important lessons Honda has learned from past events is that high school audiences respond well to hands-on activities—particularly those that have an element of competition. By offering activities that the audience enjoys, manufacturers can amp up excitement and promote more engagement.
- “High school students can act very ‘too cool’—but if you set things up as a competition, they break out of their shells,” said Reffey. “Put a racing simulator in front of ’em, they seem to come unglued. They get so excited to participate.”
Get involved: The MI has a range of resources designed to help manufacturers create effective events—and White emphasized that those resources are open and available to all manufacturers interested in using them.
- “Being involved with MFG Day, hosting events, using the branding that’s available on the website, registering your events on MFGday.com and all of our resources and toolkits are 100% free to you,” said White. “You do not have to be an MFG Day sponsor. You do not have to be an NAM member. It is 100% free for you to use. We want as many companies and partners of manufacturers involved in MFG Day as possible.”
Learn more: Manufacturers are encouraged to reach out with any questions to [email protected].