New Mexico spotlights diverse manufacturing sector

More than a third of young people studying for vocational and technical careers have no contact with potential future employers before they graduate, and only 12 percent have seen the inside of a manufacturing facility.

That conclusion, from a 2016 study by the Manufacturing Institute, lends urgency to Manufacturing Day, an annual event designed to educate the public about modern U.S. manufacturing and to attract young people to this fundamental industry.

Manufacturing Day, or Mfg Day as it’s typically known, actually lasts more than a month in New Mexico. Sponsored by the nonprofit New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NM MEP), Manufacturing Day introduces students and job seekers to manufacturing careers by inviting them to tour factories and facilities where people make things.

While National Manufacturing Day 2018 is October 5, tours of New Mexico manufacturing facilities will run from October 10 to October 30. Other events are scheduled throughout the month, and the calendar is still under development.

Building on success

Last year, 31 New Mexico manufacturers opened their doors for a few hours to let people see skilled technicians using computer-assisted design software and other modern equipment to create in-demand, Made-in-New Mexico products.

Because Mfg Day especially targets what industry leaders hope will be a new generation of U.S.-based manufacturers, event organizers make a concerted effort to invite teachers and school administrators. Last year, the fifth year New Mexico joined the national observance, 350 students from 10 schools attended facility tours, and 3,500 students attended career fairs.

Host manufacturers included commercial woodworking and lighting factories, herbal supplement and food producers, winemakers, and manufacturers of beauty products and medical devices. These businesses represent the diversity of manufacturing in the state, and many are expected to participate again this fall.

Still time to get aboard

Manufacturing companies are encouraged to host a tour or give a presentation to inspire students to consider joining the manufacturing work force. After all, manufacturing in New Mexico employs more than 26,000 people in skilled jobs that pay more than $58,000 a year on average.

While manufacturing represents less than 5 percent of the state’s economic output, according to a 2015 report by the National Association of Manufacturers, New Mexico manufacturers are exporting ever-greater numbers of goods: The export of New Mexico-made goods grew 156.78 percent between 2010 and 2015.

The sponsoring nonprofit, New Mexico MEP, helps businesses of all types increase profitability and competitiveness through workshops and onsite training and systems analyses to help businesses identify where they can eliminate waste and streamline production. Its offices in Albuquerque, Farmington and Las Cruces give New Mexico MEP statewide reach with such programs as ISO 9001 and lean manufacturing training, ExporTech and New Mexico Made.

Tours will be listed at as companies continue to commit to tours and other events. Questions can be emailed to: The Twitter handle is @NewMexicoMEP and social media hashtag is #MfgDayNM.