The first Friday in October is celebrated as Manufacturing Day. A movement that started in 2012 has grown steadily with participation rapidly increasing each year with manufacturing companies across the U.S. opening up their doors to show an eager audience what modern manufacturing looks like.

This eager audience, our students, are the next generation of manufacturers. Introducing this future workforce to the careers in an industry which employs highly-skilled individuals and offers some of the most exciting, innovative work environments around is what makes Manufacturing Day my favorite field trip of the year!

Located in Fremont CA, which is considered the regional hub of Advanced Manufacturing, Mission Valley ROP (MVROP) provides Career Technical Education (CTE) programs which prepare students for employment and college through industry standard tools, training, and experience. MVROP has been instrumental in preparing local high school students for successful business, medical, and technical careers. MVROP CTE programs enlighten students about the opportunities available to them. Student participation in Manufacturing Day affords them to visit companies and observe firsthand employment opportunities and professional work environments. This ties seamlessly to the CTE “hands-on learning” classroom approach and has been a perfect partnership for Mission Valley ROP for nearly five years.

With the primary goal of inspiring the next generation of manufacturers, Manufacturing Day also aims to educate the public at large on the importance of the role manufacturers play in our daily lives.  There is a growing shortage of manufacturing skills, and a steep increase in available job opportunities in the industry. Modern manufacturing processes are being revolutionized by technology through innovations in 3D printing, robotics and IoT. This rapidly evolving landscape can be an important source of economic competitiveness and high quality employment. As production complexity increases, the need for new skill sets emerges. We can’t let the outdated perceptions about manufacturing keep talent away.

That is why Manufacturing Day is so important. It is a celebration of the work we do, and gives science, technology, engineering, and math students insight into manufacturing today so they can help build the manufacturing world of tomorrow.

Can dedicating just one day a year to manufacturing really light the curiosity of students? The answer is a big YES. Take a look at the infographic by National Institute of Standard and Technology:

Not only has the City of Fremont celebrated Manufacturing Day since the program’s inception, it has consistently had the strongest participation in the entire state with more than 10% of all tours in California taking place in Fremont. The city understands the benefits and the talent needs of our driving industries and has taken on a leadership role in connecting manufacturers and the next generation of workers. Check out this story on the city’s economic development website to see why Manufacturing Day is much more than just a one day affair in Fremont.

It is really easy for folks like me to get involved by partnering with the city to provide students with a hands-on learning opportunity at local companies. I urge more educators to take part in the excitement next year and give your students a chance to get up close and personal with modern manufacturing. Your students will love learning about rewarding professions and state-of-the-art products that are being built by today’s high-tech manufacturing companies. When it comes to engagement, nothing works better than seeing and learning first-hand how an industry works. This unique experience can spark interest and lead to further studies, a new generation of skilled workers, and an eventual closing of the skills gap.