Manufacturing Day, and the month-long recognition of the industry it kicks off, will be very different this year.

Students can’t tour factories, technical schools and more in person. But manufacturers can still do their part to show parents, teachers and students what careers in today’s advanced manufacturing really look like, by using virtual programming.

In advance of this year’s MFG Day Oct. 2, The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, held a webinar to help manufacturers plan virtual events. Here is a quick summary.

What should manufacturers do?

First, reach out to local associations and regional groups to see if there is an existing event that you can co-host or participate in. Second, you can consider partnering with other manufacturers in your area or industry to produce a virtual event.

If you choose to host your own virtual MFG Day event, here are a few suggestions that will make it a hit, courtesy of Manufacturing Institute senior director of youth engagement Julia Asoni and NAM assistant vice president of advocacy Michael O’Brien:

--Provide a welcome message from senior leadership.

--Offer an overview of the importance of manufacturing to the economy in your community.

--Lay out what your company does and give participants a sense of its career offerings.

--Film a video tour of your facility to show viewers the technology and tools you use every day.

--Record interviews with employees or a conversation with a panel to allow young people to hear directly from the people who work at your business.

--Create a survey to track how the event changes your audience’s perceptions of manufacturing. For example, asking participants about their interest in a manufacturing career both before and after your presentation.

During the webinar, a range of manufacturers and partners presented their plans for MFG Day:

Allegion will feature a full virtual experience planned through Microsoft Teams. It will provide a mixture of live and pre-recorded content, and will localize every event.

Boeing collaborated with external partners like high schools, colleges and community organizations to create an effective virtual program. Its event will include videos of employees explaining their jobs and performing specific tasks, virtual tours of the company’s facilities, and videos from manufacturing interns and students.

Graco is postponing its regular MFG Day programming to spring 2021 in hopes of providing an in-person experience that will involve hands-on learning, including stations that allow participants to control robots, build keychains with lasers and learn about quality control.

Click Bond is in the early stages of developing content for a virtual experience. It is planning an interactive website that includes career testimonials, virtual maps and how-to videos about machines and technology.

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