It’s Not Quite Your Older Brother’s Manufacturing Anymore: And That’s Good News!

Jan 31, 2017

By David Modaff, President of Friday Services

We are proud to say that Friday Services placed 2,099 workers in jobs across Western North Carolina in 2016, with the majority of these positions in the manufacturing industry. We hear all the time from people we matched with jobs that they found manufacturing to be a solid career choice with room to grow and new skills to learn.

It’s not your grandfather’s manufacturing anymore. It’s not your father’s manufacturing anymore. It’s hardly even your older brother’s manufacturing anymore. The jobs that exist today and skillsets that employees must have are drastically different than those of the mid-20th century. And that’s a good thing!

A Hot Topic

You may have noticed that many news sources and publications today have been especially fascinated by the manufacturing industry. They look at what is being produced, what kinds of jobs people can perform, and how modern day factories look compared to their 20th-century counterparts. We recently read local and national articles in Mountain Xpress, The Economist, and The Atlantic that detail the exciting new face of industry.

Change is Good

Change keeps businesses competitive, which is necessary for sustainability. Automation and technology have changed production in a variety of ways. The jobs you’ll find today require skilled workers who learn quickly (because technology is ever changing). Adjusting to changes may be difficult, but it’s for the good of the industry and the economy that manufacturers are working hard to innovate.

Some manufacturing plants are now producing goods that did not exist several years ago. Others are manufacturing long-established products using entirely new processes. The Atlantic magazine noted that the effect on today’s workforce from this change has been that, “People who can work in modern manufacturing—those with computer skills and advanced degrees—are in demand.”

Hired Right After High School

Since today’s jobs require more highly skilled people, manufacturing plants are working hard to provide training resources for their employees. High school graduates seeking a career in manufacturing are finding work in Western North Carolina. (Read our blog post on tips for graduates.) Many manufacturers offer training for their regular employees, often through community colleges.

Did you know there are 139 factories in Henderson County? The Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development has helped increase awareness among local high school students. One way in which they do this is by bringing students to manufacturing plants to talk to workers about their careers.

Growth in WNC

According to the Mountain Xpress, “(Since 2010) Buncombe County has seen 16 percent growth in manufacturing jobs, and the Asheville metro added 1,982 of them, according to the Chamber of Commerce.”

When you think of factories, you may imagine sparks flying, smoke, and grease on the floor.

With safety precautions the way they are right now, cleanliness is super important. There is a plant in Morganton that makes electronic parts for car brakes. Employees wear hair nets and lab coats. There are sticky mats on the floor. They’re very, very clean.

While it isn’t realistic for anyone to say with certainty that a job will go un-automated in the future, I do believe you can work in the manufacturing environment for your entire professional life, as long as you keep updating your skills. Adaptability is key. In the old days you could go to work in a plant and do the same job for your entire career. That is not the case now.  

Once you’re in the door, and have proven you have a great work ethic and ability to work well with others, a manufacturing employer will likely hire you for other positions or promote you within the company. You can continue to gain skills using their training programs. There are also a lot of resources in the community that keep you a competitive employee.

Find a Job in Manufacturing Today!

There are a lot of great opportunities right now in manufacturing and many other industries. We are here to help you! Entry level to more advanced positions are available. Check out our open jobs and apply today. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


If you see a lot of potential in yourself – so do we! Start your job search and learn about the opportunities and benefits offered.


Friday Services is independent and locally owned. We offer Western North Carolina employers strategic flexibility with greater attention to detail.