Letters to the Editor

In high school, who took auto shop? Boys. Does that mean girls don’t like auto shop? Maybe. But maybe they were never encouraged to try it.

Although an industry heavily dominated by men, women may be the solution to solving the U.S. manufacturing labor force shortages and skills gap challenges. Women constitute one of manufacturing’s largest pools of untapped talent – representing 47 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2016, but only 29 percent of the manufacturing workforce.

In honor of National Manufacturing Month, I’d like to shine a light on a company that is proactively addressing this disparity in South Carolina. MTU America, a manufacturer of off-highway diesel engines, is taking steps to help expose young women to opportunities in manufacturing. Annually, MTU hosts a "Girls Day" event, where 80 to 90 ninth-grade girls from high schools throughout Aiken County spend the day at MTU’s manufacturing plant learning about the high-paying and highly-skilled jobs performed by women at the plant.

Through programs like these, smart manufacturers can reach these talented young women with opportunities that they may otherwise never consider. Innovative thinking like this will help close the skills gap and build the diverse manufacturing workforce of the future.

Arjonetta Gaillard

human resources manager, MTU America