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Kronos Survey Finds Many Parents Undervalue Manufacturing as a Career for Their Children, but Remain Openminded
[October 04, 2018]

Kronos Survey Finds Many Parents Undervalue Manufacturing as a Career for Their Children, but Remain Openminded

According to a national survey commissioned by Kronos Incorporated, while 58 percent of parents1 want their child to be knowledgeable about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects and 43 percent agree STEM-focused careers have a promising future, only 20 percent of parents associate STEM education with the manufacturing industry. To inspire and recruit the next generation of modern manufacturers, these findings suggest Manufacturing Day (Oct. 5) and similar efforts to prioritize STEM education and raise the profile of the manufacturing industry are more important than ever.

The Kronos (News - Alert) 2018 Manufacturing Day Survey conducted online by The Harris Poll in September 2018 surveyed 1,004 U.S. parents of children under 18 to explore their perceptions of the manufacturing industry as well as priorities regarding their child's future career path. The survey revealed a general lack of knowledge about the manufacturing industry, with many parents (40 percent) stating that they do not have any experience with the manufacturing industry, and three out of four (76 percent) admitting they were unaware that the manufacturing industry is facing a workforce shortage. However, once presented with facts about the industry's surging growth, strong economic outlook, and wide availability of high paying jobs,2 more than two-thirds (67 percent) of parents said they would encourage their child to learn more about career opportunities in manufacturing, and nearly half (47 percent) would even consider a career in manufacturing for themselves if they could start over.

Survey News Facts

  • Parents' perceptions about the manufacturing industry make it less likely they would encourage their child to pursue a career in that field.
    • Compared to the majority of parents who would be likely to encourage their child to consider a career in a technology (88 percent) or engineering (82 percent) field, only 49 percent would be likely to encourage their child to consider a career in manufacturing.
    • The majority of parents anticipate their child will pursue higher education (84 percent), and nearly one-quarter of parents (22 percent) believe that a career in manufacturing requires only basic skills/training (i.e. no college degree).
    • About half of parents associate manual work (59 percent) and hourly work (50 percent) with manufacturing, while many associate long hours/overtime (45 percent), unskilled labor (32 percent), and unfavorable working conditions (30 percent).
    • For the most part, parents were less likely to associate these attributes with the manufacturing industry: an engineering degree (29 percent), modern workplace technology (25 percent), artificial intelligence/machine learning (24 percent), or salaried work (21 percent).
    • A mere 20 percent of parents associate desirable pay with a career in manufacturing, while research shows manufacturing workers actually earn 13 percent more than comparable workers in other industries.3
  • A career in manufacturing would give parents exactly what they want for their child's career - even if they don't know it.
    • About half of parents would encourage their child to pursue a career path that offers opportunities for growth or advancement (56 percent) and would encourage them to consider the future industry outlook (52 percent).
    • Additionally, parents would encourage their child to consider the average salary/pay (45 percent) and the number of open job opportunities (38 percent) in a given industry - both of which spiked in manufacturing in 2018.4
    • Two out of five parents think STEM education should be a top priority for their child (44 percent) and agree that STEM skills are vital to succeed in any industry (41 percent). However, only 20 percent of parents associate STEM education specifically with the manufacturing industry.
  • Awareness makes a difference: Parents' perceptions of the manufacturing industry have shifted over time.
    • When in high school, few parents perceived the industry to have well-paying jobs (18 percent) or a lot of available jobs/opportunities (18 percent). Now as adults with children of their own, 31 percent of parents perceive the manufacturing industry to have well-paying jobs, and 28 percent perceive there to be a lot of available jobs/opportunities.
    • Additionally, in contrast to their teenage perspectives, today, more parents consider manufacturing to be a "modern industry with a strong focus on technology" (28 percent; up from 12 percent during their high school years) and "a fast-growing industry" (26 percent, up from 14 percent).
    • 62 percent of parents who have/had student loans admitted to feeling like they could have paid off their student loan debt faster if they had chosen a different career, and 31 percent of employe parents shared disappointment with their current career path.

Supporting Quote

  • Kylene Zenk, director, manufacturing practice, Kronos
    "This is an exciting time of digital transformation for many manufacturers and the industry is bursting with opportunity for new and inspired talent. However, nearly half a million manufacturing jobs today are unfilled, and a growing talent shortage suggests manufacturers may have a hard time attracting next-generation employees to fill these positions. It's hard for those of us who work in or alongside the industry to believe that public perception continues to fall short. The nation's rising focus on STEM studies - which are highly relevant to manufacturing careers - is a promising start, though initiatives like Manufacturing Day will be the key to changing perceptions of the industry and promoting the fantastic STEM-related careers and opportunities it offers. As a passionate advocate working to inspire and educate the next-generation, multi-dimensional workforce, Kronos is committed to helping close the manufacturing skills gap by supporting like-minded organizations and events that are raising the profile of the industry."

Supporting Resources

About Kronos Incorporated
Kronos is a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos industry-centric workforce applications are purpose-built for businesses, healthcare providers, educational institutions, and government agencies of all sizes. Tens of thousands of organizations - including half of the Fortune 1000® - and more than 40 million people in over 100 countries use Kronos every day. Visit Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works.

Footnote 1: This survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll which surveyed 1,004 U.S. parents of children under 18. All references made to "parents" implies parents of children under 18.
Footnote 2: In the second-to-last question of the survey, respondents were given the following information and then asked to agree or disagree with a series of statements: The U.S. manufacturing industry is stable and growing, and manufacturing in America continues to be a pillar of the economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2018, manufacturing accounted for 11.7 percent of gross domestic product in the economy. However, manufacturing faces an industry workforce crisis. There are nearly half a million manufacturing jobs unfilled today, and millions more are projected to go unfilled in the years to come. In a nut shell, manufacturing in the U.S. is holding steady and is an industry with plenty of future opportunities for those willing to take them.
Footnote 3: According to the Economic Policy Institute, manufacturing workers earn 13.0 percent more in hourly compensation (wages and benefits) than comparable workers earn in the rest of the private sector.
Footnote 4: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wages in Manufacturing in the U.S. averaged 9.26 USD/Hour from 1950 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 21.53 USD/Hour in April of 2018. And over the past year through July 2018, U.S. Manufacturing added 327,000 jobs, the most of any 12-month period since 1995.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of Kronos from Sept. 17-24, 2018 among 1,004 U.S. parents of children under 18. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Tonya Eckert at

© 2018 Kronos Incorporated. All rights reserved. Kronos and the Kronos logo are registered trademarks and Workforce Innovation That Works is a trademark of Kronos Incorporated or a related company. See a complete list of Kronos trademarks. All other trademarks, if any, are property of their respective owners.

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