Diversity in Manufacturing Initiative (DiMi): Increasing BIPOC Representation in Manufacturing 

image of people working in manufacturing with words Manufacturing Month and CareerForce

Manufacturing is crucial to the strength of Minnesota’s economy and its jobs offer many opportunities for family-sustaining employment. Currently, Manufacturing makes up about 14% of the state’s gross domestic product, pays wages 10%; higher than the state average, and employs more than 309,000 people with a variety of educational backgrounds. In the coming years and decades, Manufacturing will need to welcome a more diverse workforce to meet future demand, given the rapid changes in Minnesota’s demographics.  

The next generation of workers will be a much more racially and ethnically diverse workforce than in the past, and this means that Manufacturing, like all other industries, will need to tap into groups that may not have been previously targeted for recruitment. Many manufacturers, educational institutions and other organizations are working together to provide an entry into the Manufacturing industry for youth from Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and other diverse backgrounds.  

It is important to ensure that members of diverse communities are encouraged to consider Manufacturing careers and are welcomed in Manufacturing workplaces because the number of Minnesotans from BIPOC communities is expected to grow by 61.4% between 2018 and 2038, while the number of white residents will decrease by 1.6% during that same time frame. White people make up 83% of the current Manufacturing workforce, which is also 70% male. As Minnesota continues to grow in racial and ethnic diversity, Manufacturing will need to continue to diversify its workforce to meet its employment needs. Manufacturing employers who aren’t inclusive of workers from diverse communities will limit their access to talent needed for their organizations grow and succeed in the marketplace. 

Many opportunities already exist for youth ages 16 to 24 to explore Manufacturing careers, but there is a need to reach out more intentionally to youth from diverse communities. In addition, employers, educators and state and local agencies and organizations will need to work together to overcome basic skills gaps and preconceived notions about Manufacturing careers that may be barriers to youth engagement.  

Diversity in Manufacturing Initiative

That’s where the Diversity in Manufacturing Initiative (DiMi) comes in. DiMi is an initiative led by DEED's Workforce Strategy Consultants aimed at increasing the number of BIPOC Minnesotans and others from diverse talent pools who work in the Manufacturing industry. The idea for the project came from a conversation with industry experts asking how they can collaborate with DEED to reach out to growing BIPOC communities and other underrepresented groups. DiMi recognizes parents and community leaders as essential partners in reaching young people from diverse backgrounds and sharing information about the many opportunities in Manufacturing.  

There are three levels to DiMi. The first level is on boarding for those new to or with little experience in the manufacturing industry. The second level is career advancement for those looking to move up within the industry. The last level is entrepreneurship. This level is optional and is for those with years of experience who are now interested in business ownership. 

DEED’s Workforce Strategy Consultants are launching a pilot project in the metro area and central Minnesota, in partnership with Central Minnesota Manufacturing Association (CMMA) and Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association (MPMA) in the fall of 2021 and will be working with employers in these regions to strengthen career pathways into manufacturing.