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Survey reports Gen Z views manufacturing more positively due to COVID-19

A recent survey by Parsable reports 58% of respondents who had graduated from a four-year college or university said they were interested in a career in manufacturing, which was likely influenced by their access to STEM and related educational programs while in school.

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According to a recent survey by Parsable, Gen Z has an increasingly positive perception of manufacturing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 56% of respondents said their views on manufacturing had changed because of COVID-19, and of those, 77% said they now view the industrial sector as more important than they had pre-pandemic.

Among other key takeaways from the survey, 58% of respondents who had graduated from a four-year college or university said they were interested in a career in manufacturing, which was likely influenced by their access to STEM and related educational programs while in school.

In a recent episode of the Thomas Industry Update Podcast, host Cathy Ma, vice president of platform growth and engagement at Thomas, discusses the survey insights with Parsable CEO Lawrence Whittle. In the conversation, Ma and Whittle discuss how the results could improve recruitment initiatives across the industrial sector in light of current labor shortages.


Cathy Ma (CM): Can you tell us about the impetus behind running this survey? Why did you specifically select Generation Z as a focus group?

Lawrence Whittle (LW): Over the last few years – and especially in the last year and a half during the pandemic – I think people have had a little bit of a misunderstanding about the role of humans in the future of manufacturing. 

You've read a lot of headlines about automation and robots taking over. But the reality is very, very different. There are tremendous labor shortages. When I talk to our customers, whether it's domestically or globally, the phenomenon of the ongoing shortage of skilled workers and of workers who want to be part of the future of manufacturing is huge. 

As we think about the various generations, whether it's Baby Boomers who are retiring, Generation X, Millennials or Generation Z, it's really important to understand their perspectives on working in the industrial space. It's a fundamental issue for our global customers around hiring and retaining talent. And clearly, one of the biggest available pools that’s available both now and in the near-term is Generation Z. That was really the genesis of this survey.

CM: What would you say to someone who’s on the fence about pursuing a career in manufacturing? 

LW: The tradeoff compared to other industries is really interesting. You've got increasingly very well-paid jobs in the industrial sector now; obviously, we all need to earn money to build our careers and lives. Plus, those jobs are incredibly stimulating.

So if you want a fulfilling career and high earning potential, you've actually got the opportunity to harness both now with an industrial profession. And I think that's where the future of manufacturing can take us.

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