Jay Heflin writes for the Washington Examiner about a new effort to help boost young people’s interest in manufacturing jobs.

The National Association of Manufacturers is aiming to convince parents who think manufacturing jobs are boring or dead-end jobs that it’s actually a good career choice for their children.

“The current overarching issue for our sector is perception,” said Carolyn Lee, the executive director of the Manufacturing Institute, which is the nonprofit, social-impact arm of the NAM. “We have a challenge where parents, if they think about manufacturing, they do recognize that it’s important to the national economy and national defense, and they think it’s an important sector, but only about 27% of parents think it’s a good job for their kid.”

According to Lee’s research, a majority of parents consider a career in manufacturing to be boring, or worse, a dead-end pursuit that goes nowhere.

“It’s dirty, dark, and dangerous [to parents],” Lee said. “If you ask an adult to draw a picture of manufacturing, they’ll draw a smokestack. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The negative perception parents have about manufacturing likely rubs off on their children, who then rule out manufacturing as a career choice.

“We know from our research that parents are the biggest influencers outside the student’s own personal experience,” Lee said.

Manufacturing provides larger salaries and benefits than other industries, averaging $88,000 versus $66,000 in other sectors, according to the latest data from 2017. Yet the manufacturing sector lost over 4 million workers since the turn of the century, according to the Labor Department. It is facing a 2.4 million shortfall in filled jobs by 2028, and fewer than 3 in 10 parents would encourage their children to undertake a career in manufacturing, according to a 2017 study published by NAM, Deloitte, and the Manufacturing Institute.