Over the next decade millions of jobs are expected to open in manufacturing, with the majority of them projected to go unfilled. To achieve sustained economic growth, we must start educating tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce. Building the future STEM workforce requires a national commitment to support students, teachers, and the current workforce with the right messaging and tools. The Manufacturing USA® institutes have a call to inform, inspire, attract and recruit talent for adhering to this commitment.

Disrupting technical education

Building the pipeline for manufacturing jobs in the next decade will require reconstructing how students are inspired, attracted and retained in STEM and manufacturing-related careers. NextFlex, LIFT, AFFOA, AIM Photonics, America Makes, IACMI, and RAPID, among other Manufacturing USA institutes, are creatively developing industry influenced and technology-infused learning platforms for students nationwide. The institutes impacted more than 180,000 students in 2017 through activities using project-based learning models.

Advancing diversity of technologies 

As more technology-driven curricula are developed, earlier exposure to manufacturing sector and industry needs can only be leveraged through work-and-learn models.  Programs like NextFlex’s Learn & Earn, AIM Photonics’ Future Leaders, and IACMI and RAPID’s tech-specific internships connect manufacturers and the future workforce. These work-based learning platforms provide applied hands-on experiences on state-of-the-art equipment in advanced manufacturing technology areas and help turn participants into employees.

Building the workforce for today and tomorrow

Project-based and work-based learning models build the critical knowledge and education needed to support the increased emphasis on automation, product design and customization happening in U.S. manufacturing. By scaling best practice models and increasing federal, industry and academic partnerships, Manufacturing USA is developing efficient and cost effective talent development processes across the manufacturing sector that are transforming global competitiveness and the U.S. economy.

Manufacturers are seeing long-term value for investing in employee training and credentialing. Manufacturing USA® institutes are committed to challenging and changing misperceptions around modern manufacturing careers — these jobs are clean, technically challenging and offer job security contributing to our economic and national security.

Raising awareness

New advanced manufacturing careers provide average earning potential (including salary and benefits) above $80,000 and are accessible through technical educational pathways. The UI LABS’ DMDII and ManpowerGroup released a groundbreaking workforce analysis identifying 165 new data-centric jobs—roles like “collaborative robotics specialist,” “manufacturing cybersecurity strategist,” and “enterprise digital ethicist.” The workforce playbook highlighted increased new opportunities companies have for developing an effective talent pipeline that meets existing and future factory needs. 

To achieve sustained economic growth, we must start educating tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce.

New training

Training, continued education activities, and upskilling programs assist with raising awareness because they provide tools for worker success in new emerging advanced manufacturing careers. The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation offer workshops with hands-on experience for workers using cutting edge composite manufacturing technology. The National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing engages in curricula development, short courses and skills development to support the need for a qualified biopharmaceutical workforce. The Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) institute has a program focused on technical education and workforce development efforts that leverage existing resources to train and educate the engineering workforce.

Supporting our veterans

As millions of manufacturing jobs open in the next decade, employers will require strategies for emphasizing activities engaging diverse populations. Providing our U.S. servicemen and servicewomen the opportunity to enhance skills and further their education towards the most in-demand jobs in the country was the driving force behind LIFT’s “Operation Next” program. 

With more efforts like these, we collectively meet current and future needs for a skilled workforce.