In 2019, the NYC Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Council (MaiiC) conducted a series of focus groups with students across New York City. As Baby Boomers begin to retire, over half a million jobs in manufacturing alone will be opening up across the United States, demanding that businesses fill the gap with a younger workforce. To ensure that businesses are connecting with Gen Z, Millennial, and other potential employees, these focus groups sought to understand young people’s perceptions of the industrial sectors and the career opportunities they provide. One representative response:
“Industrial? You mean like…the industrial revolution?!”
Sure enough, the focus groups revealed that students had minimal interaction with manufacturing, transport and logistics, or infrastructure services, or even with anyone who worked in the industries. The little that students did know about the industrial sectors came from history classes or outdated media portrayals. Their assumptions were that jobs in these industries are repetitive, boring, low wage, dangerous, prone to outsourcing, and major contributors to climate change and environmental catastrophe. Instead, students said, they are interested in jobs that allow for upward mobility, where they could solve problems using advanced technology, and that focus on community development and environmental sustainability.
Seeing a need to connect students with the realities and promise of industrial businesses, and inspired by the success of MaiiC’s 2019 Manufacturing Day events, the MaiiC Executive Board is excited to launch Inside Industrial. Inside Industrial will be a year-round series of panel discussions and live tours of industrial companies, conducted in partnership with the NYC Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education students and other non-profits serving young people.