Brad Kuvin Brad Kuvin
Editorial Director

Have You Heard of Generation T?

April 22, 2022

The latest Thomas Industrial Report, North American Manufacturing Trends Q4 2021, reveals groundbreaking reshoring and market-investment trends, first and foremost that 61 percent of manufacturers say that they are “likely to extremely likely” to reshore, up from 21 percent in March 2020. In addition, 66 percent plan to increase domestic manufacturing capacity, and even more—68 percent—plan to hire more employees.

Last but not least, 61 percent of manufacturers are “likely or extremely likely” to add North American suppliers to their supply chain, up from 21 percent just 2 yr. ago.

These stats paint a rosy picture for North American metal forming and fabricating operations, yet there’s a haze overhead emanating from the shallow (some might say empty) labor pool. Yes, automation and other strategies for growing productivity continue to positively impact our facilities, but not every task can be automated. Who, for example, can we task with engineering, programming and maintaining this new glut of automation equipment?

One unfortunate stat coming from the Thomas survey: Only 13 percent of companies surveyed plan to implement new internship or apprenticeship programs during the next 12 months. Without homegrown talent-pool solutions such as internships and apprenticeship programs, exactly where do manufacturers think they’ll be obtaining all of the new hires they’ll need to satisfy growing demand?

Up to the plate steps home-improvement retailer Lowe’s, which, in 2019, after nearly a year-and-a-half of research and development, introduced Generation T. This digital-first movement combines the efforts of more than 60 organizations aimed at rebuilding the skilled trades by changing people’s perception. Among its mission: connect people to apprenticeships, training and trade-related programs in community colleges. And, it seeks to bring shop classes back to target cities.

In its outreach to the manufacturing community, Lowe’s asks companies to take three easy steps to help grow the Generation T movement:  

  1. Follow the movement on social media—Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—and share its posts, to help reach new audiences and spread its messages. Encourage your friends and family members to share with their friends, and if you see a tweet or a post you like, share it on your channels. The channels:;; and
  2. Take the pledge—Businesses and organization across the country are taking the pledge to support the skilled trades. Visit the pledge page:
  3. List job openings and training opportunities at the Generation T online portal, Smaller businesses, in particular those that don’t have dedicated HR support teams, struggle with recruiting. This free, easy-to-use online portal helps connect applicants with companies and organizations looking for candidates. 

One last note on bringing shop classes back to our high schools:

A recent article from the Generation T website describes very well the value of shop classes, exemplified at Mount Vernon (MO) High School. The school primarily focuses on agriculture-based shop classes where students learn welding and other skills used to repair tractors and build trailers. In addition, as explained by Mt. Vernon teacher Jay Shepherd, these students also gain valuable experience in business.  

“Maybe they’re not all going to be welders,” he says, “but they all are going to be problem solvers.”

Industry-Related Terms: Forming, Plate
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Training


Must be logged in to post a comment.
There are no comments posted.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Start receiving newsletters.