With Manufacturing Month now behind us, we must continue to celebrate all things manufacturing and all of the people involved in the manufacturing industry.

We all experience and deal with the talent shortages, and that problem is impossible to ignore. Manufacturing has been an industry facing a talent shortage for a long time, and this talent shortage has been further exacerbated by the overall talent shortage that every industry is experiencing right now following the pandemic.

Celebrating Manufacturing Month in October started years ago as a way to promote the careers and overall interest in manufacturing as a solid career path and try to improve the talent pool in the future. That promotion was the notion that a technical degree can lead you to a career in a skilled trade and be a viable way to earn a living doing what you love.

As the years have rolled by, the original focus of October Manufacturing Month still remains. There are numerous partnerships that have been formed between the manufacturing sector and educators and educational institutions, all the way down to the grade school level.

Technical colleges maintain a strong pipeline of individuals learning a trade or being reskilled for a new adventure and developing those graduates who are so very sought after in the labor market.

Further evolution of Manufacturing Month has expanded into other aspects of manufacturing as well. Today, it is as much about topics such as leadership, equipment, processes, products and business networking as it is about career paths and education.

At a recent plant-wide meeting, and this being my first October with this group, I took the opportunity to talk about Manufacturing Month with our team. We talked about many of the school events that take place, the business events and conferences, and the “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin.”

Unfortunately for a lot of my team, this information was new to them. Interesting and exciting to see, but still new to them.

The plant meeting reinforced to me what Manufacturing Month should be about at the individual organization level. With all of the promotion for manufacturing among the industry and the community stakeholders, let’s not forget to celebrate with our own manufacturing teams who experience the joy and passion of manufacturing each and every day.

While it’s important to promote manufacturing to the next generation of talent, a lot of that talent is already within our organizations. Some is in the form of skilled labor and possibly some in the form of an entry level role where the person is ‘giving manufacturing a try.’

The products that each of us create, and the processes we use to create them, and the people and roles needed to keep all of our plants operating, still amazes me to this day.

I’ve been involved in manufacturing since I was a teenager helping my father on Saturdays in the machine shop he called home. While it’s important to promote manufacturing to the next generation of talent, a lot of that talent is already within our organizations. Some is in the form of skilled labor and possibly some in the form of an entry level role where the person is “giving manufacturing a try.”

We have been working on a couple of things that we can do this month to celebrate what we do each and every day in our plant. Those things do not have to be fancy or extravagant.

With all of the focus on new hires and signing bonuses, let’s make sure that we celebrate those who are already part of our team and the contributions they make to all of the awesome things we manufacture.

Those individuals who are with us now and who are giving manufacturing a try may not know the wonderful career they have ahead of them otherwise.

Joe Brittnacher is general manager of VT Industries-Eggers Division