Celebrating Our Workforce on National Manufacturing Day

Oct 1, 2021 | Team Member Spotlight

By Russell Hillenburg, President, Woven Metal Products

Today is National Manufacturing Day, a day we recognize the importance of modern manufacturing careers and encourage the next generation of the workforce to consider this industry for their chosen profession.

As president of Woven Metal Products (WMP), a premier fabrication facility that manufactures reactor and tower internals for a variety of processes, I know firsthand the difference hard-working manufacturing professionals make for our family’s business — and for our customers.

Our country is beginning to recognize that higher learning at the collegiate level isn’t for everyone [1], and potential employees with trade skills are incredibly valuable to manufacturers — as well as to our economy.

Here are some words of advice for individuals who are determining their future career path — and who may be considering manufacturing as a possible choice.

Manufacturing careers require skill and precision.

Oftentimes people think of manufacturing as working on an assembly line doing the same thing over and over. But there’s so much more to manufacturing and fabrication than just that — and a career in this industry can often look very different from that stereotype and actually require creativity. At WMP, we are always seeking team members with a highly mechanical mindset who have creative thinking and problem-solving skills. To get started, all that’s required are critical thinking skills and drive, and we can teach workers the  technical skills they need for success.

Automation isn’t going to take over everything.

According to the 2021 Deloitte Global Resilience Study, 57% of manufacturers are redesigning job tasks using technology, such as automating a previously manual task.[2] While it’s true that technology is changing the way everyone works, nothing can take away the power of human critical thinking and skills. The manufacturing industry will always have a demand for skilled craftspeople who can build up their technical knowledge base. Computers and equipment can automate work to a certain extent, but equipment is an assistant to human workers — not a replacement.

 Now is a great time to jump into the industry.

It’s true that the manufacturing industry is facing a workforce shortage with U.S. manufacturing expected to have 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030[3]. Added to that — the industry overall is facing a skills gap for specialized positions. (More than three-fourths of industrial organizations say reskilling their workforce is important for their success, but only 10% are ready to do so.[4])

Retirees who hold the industry knowledge base are leaving the workforce, and employers are looking to fill their spots with motivated, trainable workers. I encourage those who are just embarking on their career journey to consider a profession in manufacturing and fabrication for not only job security, but also for the diversity of projects, opportunities to be creative, leverage craftmanship and more. These positions have been around for over a hundred years, and they’re not going anywhere. There will always be a need for specialized workers in this field.

There’s room to grow once you get started.

At WMP, we’ve seen many of our shop team members work hard to specialize in their trade, as well as learn our business. They’ve worked with our team for years, sometimes decades, and have moved up within the company — even to executive roles. We’ve made a point to define a formal growth path for employees, so our skilled workforce can be led by those who have the firsthand experience and know-how to deliver the best products and service for our customers. We’re also passionate about providing a learning environment for our team, so they can not only have the tools to do their job, but also to grow in their career.

I’m proud of the team at Woven Metal Products, and I’m grateful for their drive to learn, innovate and provide superior fabrication services and custom solutions for our customers in the energy, refining, chemical and process industries. As the next generation of the workforce is embarking on their career paths, I’m optimistic that we’ll keep seeing some of the best and the brightest workers use their skills for this industry.

Reach out if you’d like to connect or to find out more about careers at WMP.


[1] Choosing Trade School Over College – The Atlantic

[2] 2021 Deloitte Global Resilience Study. Referenced at https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/manufacturing/manufacturing-industry-diversity.html

[3] National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/manufacturing/manufacturing-industry-diversity.html/#endn

[4] 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Study. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/human-capital/us-report-2020-eri-hc-trends.pdf