Connecting Manufacturers and Workers Through Technology

 

The demand is increasing for skilled manufacturing labor in order to meet the accelerating rate of technological change. A recent report by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte found that 4.6 million jobs will need to be filled in U.S. manufacturing over the next decade, and 2.4 million jobs may be left open due to a lack of trained workers. The problem is that the skill sets required for today’s factories are very different from what was needed in the past.

Collaboration among manufacturing companies in the private sector, and workforce and training organizations in the public sector, is critical to keep pace with these changes. The Manufacturing USA® network is responding to this need by convening the advanced manufacturing community to build the workforce required to be globally competitive.

Manufacturing USA® is a national network created to secure U.S. global leadership in advanced manufacturing through large-scale public-private collaboration on technology, supply chain, and education and workforce development. The 16 manufacturing innovation institutes in the network are collaborating with researchers, private sector partners and government entities to develop and accelerate the adoption of manufacturing technologies. As part of this mission, the institutes also invest in empowering the next generation of workers with skills to fit the needs of advanced manufacturing. That combination will ensure the U.S. reaps the rewards of innovation at scale, strengthening global competitiveness and the economy.

In his Proclamation on National Manufacturing Day, President Biden highlighted the important role being played by Manufacturing USA in supporting and strengthening today’s manufacturing base and its workers – as well as “the manufacturers and workers of the future.”

The institutes in the Manufacturing USA network are responding to the changing landscape by working with partners to define new job roles roles and careers, creating educational programs for exciting emerging manufacturing careers and equipping workers with the skills they need to succeed in those positions.

Determining the Manufacturing Jobs of the Future

MxD (Manufacturing times Digital) in cooperation with ManpowerGroup created a Digital Manufacturing Jobs Taxonomy, a massive undertaking that identified 165 roles in  manufacturing that will be created or transformed by the introduction of digital  technology. The project identified 20 roles that will provide the bridge between our current and future workforce by outlining a more aligned and accelerated path for digital manufacturing workforce development and the economic benefits for individuals and companies alike.

The researchers summarized what the manufacturing ecosystem (that includes government, educators and the workforce itself) needs to ask and answer:

  • What’s on the roadmap to being successful in adopting digital manufacturing and design technologies?
  • Where are the skills and capabilities to lead and deliver on the promise of digital technology?
  • How do we describe the work to be done, the jobs and the roles, and workforce needed to do it?
  • How can workforce roles and job structures change in response to a transforming global industry?

The project authors point out that the succession path to a newer and more adapted state demands the time to honor our productive past and create a talent base for the future. This will require alignment from all stakeholders in the workforce community. There will need to be more proactive management of the talent ecosystem if manufacturers are going to attract the needed tech workforce.

Credentialing the Career Opportunities in Robotics

Numerous studies have shown that automation and robotics create new jobs and career advancement opportunities in manufacturing. Careers in robotics and automation are growing, well-paying, and offer new opportunities for employment in manufacturing.

ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) has collaborated with 300 member organizations across industry, government, and academia to define the robotics skill sets, competencies, and the pathways needed for these careers. They have launched www.roboticscareer.org – the nation’s first resource to connect manufacturers, workers, and job seekers with education programs to develop skills for careers in automation and robotics. Each program on the site aligns with an industry-vetted pathway, has been certified, and earned the ARM Endorsement Badge.

Robotics is an avenue to solve a growing skills gap and overcome outdated perceptions about manufacturing by upskilling existing workers and paving the way for future generations to strengthen manufacturing.

The ARM endorsement badge is designed to meet the highest standards set by the robotics industry in:

  • Relevance to the Industry
  • Effective Curriculum
  • Efficiency of the Training
  • Impact of the Program
  • Program Sustainability and Transportability

Five programs to date have earned the endorsement.

Many of the skills required for a job like a robotics technician are things that are already present in a lot of mechanically inclined professions. For instance, working with car engines or electrical applications can provide a solid foundation of skills and knowledge that could be built upon for application in working with modern robotics. In these cases, all that might be required is upskilling, or building on existing abilities.

The Job Roles of the Future Mirror the Promise of Advanced Manufacturing

Through defining new manufacturing job roles, careers, and curriculum, the institutes and their public and private partners demonstrate the value the Manufacturing USA network delivers with large-scale collaboration on innovation and workforce development for U.S. manufacturing.

In 2020, 16 manufacturing innovation institutes collectively worked with over 2,000 member organizations to collaborate on more than 500 major research and development projects and engaged over 70,000 people in building workforce knowledge and skills in advanced manufacturing. State, industry and federal funds contributed $400 million to these activities.

To learn more about how the Manufacturing USA network is helping develop new careers in advanced manufacturing technology, visit the Institutes’ page.

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