I connect U.S. manufacturers with their workforce. A career in manufacturing provides purpose, connection, and work-life balance

taylor evans Rust Belt Recruiting e1718975509795

The world has seemingly unraveled. We are raising children to believe that status and possessions are more important than purpose, stability, and community.

We are a nation built on growth and continuous improvement, yet we have lost sight of some foundational aspects of the human condition. On the heels of the pandemic, we are more isolated than ever, often knowing neither our neighbors nor the people in our communities.

Fortunately, there is a place where our next generation can find connection, success, and most importantly, fulfillment. That place is manufacturing.

Meaningful work

There are countless jobs that provide employment without purpose, where you clock in and clock out simply to obtain a paycheck. Yet we spend more time at our jobs than anywhere else in life. Shouldn’t we feel a sense of happiness and contentment when we commit that much of our lives to something?

Manufacturing provides a meaningful career path in which your everyday work involves producing something for the world. You can be part of building vital parts for the Defense Department to keep our country safe, or producing a component for a bridge that allows people to travel safely through your region, or assembling an appliance like a refrigerator that helps a family put a quality meal on their table each night. At the end of the day, making something for others is a great way to feel personal satisfaction. 

Community, not isolation

More than ever, people are disconnected from each other and feeling isolated. With the rise in remote work, the ability to connect meaningfully has reached an all-time low. Years ago, communities used to rally around the major employer in town, providing their support for families in the area. The parents would have a connection as coworkers and their children would grow up knowing each other. Future generations would come to work with their fathers, uncles, or family friends. That referral loop kept the workplaces strong and the accountability high.

Various factors have disrupted the way in which people find work. Mobility has increased. People are able to travel more easily and pursue work elsewhere. Social mobility has increased as well, allowing people to pursue roles that they may not have previously had access to. The workplace has been democratized through access to information about the employer, their environment, and what they stand for. People can (and will!) do their homework on a workplace before committing 40-plus hours of their week to them.

Connection in the workplace has broken down socioeconomic barriers for centuries. People who may not have been connected otherwise get to know one another and share their lives for eight hours each day. Naturally this creates a bond and strengthens communities as a result.

While some embrace remote work, others yearn for ongoing connection and purpose. As an example, my business, Rust Belt Recruiting, could easily be run as a remote one. Recruiting companies do it all the time. However, we are in-office together three days a week to maintain a connection and build a workplace that matters.

With manufacturing, there are few remote jobs—and certainly none on the production floor. Those roles require people on-site to produce things. For many, that workplace makes sense and gives them a place to convene.

Showing up to work on a daily basis to make something that matters with people who become your community—that’s the good stuff in life. That type of work delivers purpose and allows an internal contentment that we all yearn for, regardless of income level.

Career growth, valuable skills

A manufacturing workplace provides an environment where you can develop many different skills that will advance your career, in some cases rapidly. Manufacturers are seeking bright talent to come in and solve critical issues. They have the infrastructure and willingness to train you for skills that will carry you throughout your career.

Rather than pursuing a finance, legal, or medical path like so many parents pushed their kids toward in the ’80s and ’90s, the movement now is for the next generation to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled. This can be accomplished through the ways of the past, within the four walls of a factory just as much as in a downtown tower or other white-collar environment.

Allowing future generations to have the freedom to pursue their interests and dreams, to be the doers and the makers, will be the greatest gift that we can give them, as well as our country. Creating workplaces with a convergence of various socioeconomic groups that learn from one another is essential to the ongoing viability of our country. 

Stability and work-life balance

Manufacturing has had its ups and downs in terms of employment stability. However, the future looks bright in that reshoring is proceeding at a rapid pace. The return of American manufacturing is happening before our eyes. When you think of career stability, manufacturing provides an often-overlooked bright spot.

The value of a stable manufacturing environment extends beyond employment. It also shows up in your personal life, providing time for family, hobbies, and other fulfilling pursuits beyond “work.” This type of work-life balance is proven to increase productivity in the workplace and also creates a broader sense of contentment in all areas of life.

Another form of stability is in how a controlled environment like a factory increases safety compared to other industrial careers like construction and transportation. With countless safety protocols in place and ongoing training around it, the ability to get home safely to your family at the end of the day shows up favorably.

Manufacturing has long had a perception problem and it is time to spotlight the positives of the industry. Working with your hands, making something meaningful, and leaving your workplace fulfilled through connection is invaluable. As we look ahead, manufacturing careers will be a promising choice for young people to regain all that work offered to prior generations.

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