Busting Manufacturing Myths

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Pamela Kan heads a local manufacturing firm and she's on a mission to dispel what she considers to be common myths about careers in California manufacturing.

Remember the MythBusters TV show that tried crazy experiments to determine if something was fact or fiction? I wish we could do something like that focused on busting the myths around manufacturing. And for each myth that was proven false, we would flash that huge "busted" sign on screen.

But busting the myths surrounding manufacturing isn't just for entertainment - its real life and the consequences are long term. I run a local manufacturing company and we need skilled workers. And so do the roughly 36,000 other manufacturing firms in California. Why don't we have them? The myths have become legendary and quality workers aren't even considering this industry as a career option.

I can wrap several of the myths into one sentence: Manufacturing is a dying industry for uneducated men that doesn't pay well and you have to work in dark, dirty warehouses with outdated machinery. That does sound awful. Thankfully, the reality is the complete opposite.

When I speak with students, parents and potential employees, Here are the top 5 truths I share:
* Manufacturing jobs pay well and average $90,000 per year in California.
* Manufacturing sites are well lit, modern buildings that house complex, advanced technology. Events like the national Manufacturing Day let you tour sites and see this first hand.
* Manufacturing is a thriving industry in California providing more than $278 Billion and nearly 11% of total economic output in the state.
* Manufacturing will have more than 2 million job openings in the next 10 years for people with specialized technical skills and advanced education where they can lead, develop, design and invent.
* And while women are still the minority in manufacturing, the industry culture is inviting and accessible for anyone's success. I am proof of that.


I will keep speaking these truths and holding up my "busted" sign because California manufacturers need skilled workers and you may be the answer. That's no myth.

With a Perspective, I'm Pamela Kan.

Pamela Kan is president of an East Bay manufacturing company who promotes STEM education and high tech careers in manufacturing.