Manufacturing Green Technologies

NYC Manufacturing Day Takeaways Part 2

As manufacturing employers grapple with recruiting and retaining top talent in NYC, our industry is faced with a daunting dilemma. The incoming workforce is excited by both the increasing role of technology in manufacturing and the impact technology has on many of these job. However, their view of manufacturing opportunities is clouded by misperceptions, due to a lack of exposure to the industry.

On Manufacturing Day, October 4th, the Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Council (MaiiC) hosted an event focused on ‘Manufacturing Green Technologies.” Held at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, the event offered students from local high schools and colleges an opportunity to attend a career fair, tour local manufacturing facilities, and participate in a panel.

During the discussion they learned how local manufacturing is a vital part of designing, building, and creating resiliency and sustainability products and greening our energy system.

The Manufacturing Green Technologies panel featured:

  • Al Mangels, President of Lee Spring Company – Brooklyn, NY
  • Yu Nong Khew, Co-Founder of Cyklr – Long Island City, NY
  • Andrew Staniforth, Founder of Therm – Manhattan, NY
  • Krystal Persaud, Founder of GroupHugTech – Brooklyn, NY
  • Kamar Anderson, Student at Jill Chaifetz Transfer High School – Bronx, NY

The learnings from students recapped below offer interesting insight, for employers from all industrial sectors, on student misperceptions and career interests that can ultimately help inform tactics to more effectively recruit a future pool of talent. If you are interested in partnering with employers throughout the city to develop industry-wide solutions to workforce challenges, sign up for the MaiiC Advisory Committee here.

Below are three key takeaways from the ‘Manufacturing Green Technologies’ event:


FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS: Although students lack exposure to manufacturing, they are interested in learning more about how companies are creating solutions to larger societal problems. 

Candice Samuel, a student from George Westinghouse High School, shared, “People are taking different approaches to climate change. Some are expressing it by protest and others are building new technologies and products to help the cause actively and it is inspiring.”

The stories from panelists about their work to create sustainable technologies—including window-based solar panels for home use (GroupHugTech), smart thermostats to reduce steam radiator energy usage (Therm), efficient composting systems (Cyklr) to reduce food waste in urban areas, and springs for products as diverse as bikeshare, trains, and energy systems (Lee Spring)—sparked interest and discussion among students.

Kamar spoke on the panel for the student perspective when he said, “My perception changed today. These manufacturing companies have found ways to appeal to young people with their products while also helping the environment and helping to sustain it. I’m really interested in the work they’re doing.”

Many students were excited about the possibility that manufacturing offered opportunities to combat climate change in a more tangible, practical way.

SHOWCASE DYNAMIC AND DIVERSE JOBS: Modern manufacturing requires a workforce with diverse technical abilities, but young people still perceive these job roles as mostly manual in nature. 

Kamar shared, “I thought manufacturing was just factories doing repetitive tasks. I didn’t think about how as time progressed, the jobs in manufacturing have too.”

Andrew Staniforth, from Therm, explained that his work couldn’t be further from ‘the assembly line. “I went into manufacturing because I wanted to come up with innovative ideas, build business models around them, communicate about them, and work with people that could help me build them.”

Many students were surprised to learn about the broad range of technology jobs within manufacturing. While touring a few factories at the Brooklyn Army Terminal they saw first-hand how technology, software, and design played a critical role in production.

ENHANCE AWARENESS: Students who are developing technical skills aren’t receiving much information about manufacturing and industrial career opportunities.

“What are manufacturers doing to tell younger people about their work?” This question from a high school student touched on the larger problem.

When students from the audience were asked about manufacturing, most admitted they had never thought too much about it before the event. While the students were learning computer science and information technology, they didn’t see a manufacturing career as a potential application of those skills.

Al Mangels of Lee Spring noticed that, “I’m not sure that a lot of young people have any perception of the industry at all. When young people come to visit us, they seem shocked. They’ve never been exposed to anything like our factory and don’t really know what manufacturing is.”

Manufacturers have a lot to offer the next generation. The industry is already playing a critical role in developing solutions to important societal issues, they are offering high quality jobs, and they are providing a range of opportunities – but young adults are generally not hearing about this. Students at the event urged employers to keep the conversation about manufacturing going.

They suggested employers could increase exposure to these jobs by sharing how products are made via social platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, speaking at local high schools, and inviting students to more onsite events.

If you are interested in partnering with industry leaders to develop solutions to pressing workforce challenges, sign up for the MaiiC Advisory Committee here.