Jun 28, 2015

Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) says when he visited Dogfish Brewery's bottling plant in his state last year, he was struck by the quiet and clean environment where eight members of a 24-person team worked a shift that required the ability to program computers, troubleshoot issues and monitor quality control. This is not the setting some of today's parents might envision, however, when they think of a manufacturer.

They may recall the Shotz Brewery bottling factory from "Laverne & Shirley," the television show that debuted more than 30 years ago, and which Coons describes as noisy with hundreds of people performing menial and manual tasks, happiest when they could clock out for the day.

As the father of three teenagers, Coons says he is well-aware of parents' conversations about their children's college decisions, tuition costs and professional paths. If parents have not visited a modern manufacturing plant and instead remember stories from a previous generation, they might view the sector negatively, and after sacrificing to send their children to college, they are concerned that it lacks promising employment options, he says.

These parents "have an impression of manufacturing as dangerous, dirty and, frankly, not on the up. They view manufacturing as not having a positive future in our country," he says. "They have an outdated view of manufacturing."