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Celebrating National Manufacturing Day in the Garden State

As someone who currently lives in Maryland and is originally from Ohio, I can’t say I’ve had too many trips to New Jersey. My perception of the state has been developed from rock legends like Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, its reputation for diners and beaches, and I’ve seen The Sopranos, along with the occasional guilty-pleasure viewing of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. All joking aside, New Jersey was the perfect place to celebrate National Manufacturing Day 2016 and I consider myself fortunate to have met so many Garden State manufacturers.

The first Friday of October is dedicated to National Manufacturing Day. October 7, 2016, marked the fifth annual celebration, and it’s extraordinary to see how the event has grown every year. With over 2,680 events and a national proclamation, it was definitely the best year yet!

National Manufacturing Day is our industry’s opportunity to help the public embrace modern manufacturing. It helps us demonstrate that U.S. manufacturers are innovative and produce an incredible diversity of products, that the industry is vital to our country’s economic growth, and that we must all work together to inspire the next generation of manufacturing workers.

History of National Manufacturing Day

National Manufacturing Day was established in 2012 to foster knowledge about the economic impact of U.S. manufacturing and improve the public’s view of manufacturing careers. On Manufacturing Day, companies open their doors to students, parents, educators, business and community leaders, media members, and the general public.

The celebration raises awareness about manufacturing’s impact and changes the perception of manufacturing careers for future generations. Consider the following:

  • the average annual salary of manufacturing workers in the U.S. is $77K;
  • manufacturing careers have the highest tenure in the private sector;
  • 90 percent of manufacturing workers have medical benefits;
  • STEM jobs are projected to grow by 8.65 million by 2018;
  • manufacturing offers diverse career options for all education levels;
  • the industry supports 17.4 million U.S. jobs;
  • every $1.00 spent in manufacturing creates $1.37 of wealth for the economy; and
  • nearly 12 percent of the nation’s GDP is from manufacturing.

Although there are amazing career opportunities, there is work to be done to cultivate a potential workforce that is excited to join the industry. As MEP’S workforce development manager, I often hear about how small and medium-sized manufacturers are challenged by recruiting young adults.

An estimated 80 percent of manufacturing jobs are filled by workers between the ages of 45 and 65, but the younger generation isn’t adequately replacing the retiring workforce…yet. Unfortunately, there is also a gender gap—only 27 percent of manufacturing workers are women. This is why National Manufacturing Day is so necessary and incredible—it brings our industry to the forefront!

It is projected that manufacturing will have 2 million job vacancies by 2025. I am both optimistic and confident that Manufacturing Day is helping us lead the charge with portraying our industry in the positive light it deserves. This has been a “grassroots effort” from the start, and manufacturers are inspiring new waves of people to look more closely at the manufacturing industry.

Joining New Jersey’s Celebration

I had the privilege of celebrating with the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP), MEP’s New Jersey affiliate. Every year on Manufacturing Day, NJMEP has a “Made in New Jersey” celebration. This year, hundreds attended the all-day event. Highlights included:
  • Opening remarks from John W. Kennedy, CEO of NJMEP, and Frank Robinson, Vice President of Government Affairs at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA). They discussed the importance of manufacturing to New Jersey’s economy and proclaimed that manufacturing is “alive and well” in the Garden State.
  • Keynote speeches from Congressman Leonard Lance and New Jersey’s Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, who highlighted the incredible and diverse careers offered in manufacturing and the future of the industry, and shared their enthusiasm for the strength of the manufacturing industry in N.J.
  • Breakout sessions, where attendees learned valuable information on topics including innovation, recruiting, workforce development, supply chain development, and more.
  • The 2016 New Jersey Manufacturing Awards and Manufacturing/STEM Honor Roll Presentation.
  • Networking opportunities, where manufacturers had the chance to meet with attendees and vendors to forge partnerships.
  • Interactions with student ambassadors from local educational institutions including the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University.

The “Made in New Jersey” event was a resounding success and it was an amazing opportunity to interact with the manufacturing workers who make our industry so remarkable!

Building Upon our Momentum

MFG Day has helped the manufacturing community in significant ways, but we need to work together as a community to build momentum throughout the year. Let’s continue to share the stories about our extraordinary manufacturers and spread the message that our industry has dynamic career opportunities for future generations. Let’s make every day Manufacturing Day!

Learn more about National Manufacturing Day at

About the author

Mary Ann Pacelli

Mary Ann Pacelli, M.Ed., is the Division Chief for Network Learning and Strategic Competitions with the NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  In this role, Mary Ann oversees the special competitions award process and the development and implementation of a plan for Learning and Knowledge Sharing across the National Network.  Recently Mary Ann was the Program Manager, Workforce Development, at MEP for over 4 years.  Her work included advocating for Manufacturing Workforce priorities with related federal agencies and providing technical support to the network of MEP centers across the country for workforce related activities.  In addition, she manages special MEP projects, and coordinates the Workforce Directors of the Manufacturing USA Institute Network, on behalf of the NIST Advanced Manufacturing Program Office. 

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Congrats for the Manufacturing Day celebration. I am a retired mechanical engineer. As a product engineer at Ford Motor Co. here in Mexico, I worked very closely with the manufacturing engineering people and lots of things I learned and put in practice from then on while working for Bendix, Remington, Yale lift trucks, and Devilbiss compressors and spray guns. It was an awesome experience. Congratulations again..

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