Training the workforce of tomorrow is top of mind for most manufacturers. As skills shortages threaten to slow innovation and future development, STEM industries are fighting outdated ideas about what it’s like to work in manufacturing today.

Trade shows and industry events, such as the recent IPC APEX EXPO are an ideal chance for companies to show the next generation just how exciting a career in manufacturing and electronics can be. Shedding light on what students and young adults can expect from manufacturing and engineering jobs can open the doors to gaining greater interest in these fields.

“As a female engineer, when I was in high school, I had no idea what an engineer did – so I know what it feels like to not understand,” said Nancy Jaster, manager of design programs at IPC. “They keep telling you, ‘Go into this field, this is a great field’ and you have no clue what it is. So STEM activities in general are extremely important to me.”

Training for Tomorrow

Like many of today’s fields, electronics is rapidly evolving – a fact which adds another layer of complication to recruitment.

“As an industry, we are attempting to train and recruit a workforce for jobs that may not even exist yet,” said Philip Stoten, founder of Scoop Communications and EBN Online contributor. “For example, there are now more than six million application developers worldwide, many of them educated in a time when apps didn’t even exist, let alone a career developing them.”

Industry events allow companies to network with the future workforce, offer hands-on experiences, and get students to consider the wide world of possibilities a career in electronics has, even before they reach college.

“We know the industry is graying and we’re trying to bring younger people on board,” said Jaster. “We have a great opportunity for them to see the machines in action and to understand what we actually do. They all know about electronics because it runs their phones and their computer games, but they don’t necessarily know how it’s made, and [STEM activities] can explain it to them.”

STEM Roundtable

IPC APEX 2018 included a range of networking opportunities and demonstrations for students, including a demo from David Bergman, vice president of standards and technology at IPC, that included making a circuit assembly out of common household items.

Check out the SCOOPstudio Roundtable below to find out more about how industry events are reaching out to the next generation of STEM.