Over the next decade, it is estimated that three and a half million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled. However, two million of those jobs are expected to be left vacant due to the skills gap that has been plaguing the manufacturing industry. As the industry becomes more advanced and technology driven there is a need for highly skilled and technically trained employees to fill new positions. Many of the processes that have been associated with manufacturing have become automated, this is creating a new kind of manufacturing workforce. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and the majority of career opportunities require a background in STEM. There has been a push to get younger generations interested in STEM careers, and by educating the next generation of potential manufacturers, we can begin to close the skills gap.
The next generation of manufacturers will be profoundly different than any generation that came before them. Technology has played a vital role in their lives. A connected world is all they ever have known and their vast knowledge of these technologies pushes them to look for careers where technology is an important part of their work. So when they think of manufacturing, they think of an assembly line that consists of repetitive labor and dirty factories and inevitably steers them away from pursuing a career in the industry. But the manufacturing industry has been transformed. New manufacturing facilities are clean, lean and driven by technology.
A manufacturing facility still has career opportunities for the ones who love working with their hands such as welders, but there has been a drastic move to automation and robotic systems that take the place of many of the hands on manufacturing processes. This kind of shift has brought about new career opportunities. Jobs like Manufacturing Engineer, Quality Technician and Machine Operator all use new technologies to control operations. The machines and robotics systems all need a technician there to input programming and need to be serviced by an employee who has been trained in the proper STEM skills. These career opportunities are interesting and rewarding and continue to become more advanced and technology dependent.
With a STEM career there is room to advance and look forward to new technologies that are coming to the market each day. New systems like the Internet of Things, the Cloud and advanced robotics systems all require a person there in order for them to run smoothly. This is the kind of work that interests this new generation and the work is readily available for any persons with the necessary skills. Manufacturing has come so far from where it once was and it is greatly important that the public is made aware of this.
There are now events and programs in place to inform the upcoming workforce about these career opportunities in industries they would have not otherwise thought about. Manufacturing Day is an amazing day where the manufacturing community puts on showcases and tours to give students and people interested in the industry a chance to see what the new manufacturing industry is all about. This kind of event is necessary in order to spread the word about these new career opportunities that are available in the manufacturing industry.
The average salary for an entry-level manufacturing engineer is $60,000 a year. This average salary is well above the national average and shows the quality of the kinds of careers available. Many manufacturing positions come with benefits which is also another bonus for new comers to the workforce. The industry desperately needs to fill positions and especially now as the baby boomers continue to retire.
This new workforce that is just entering the job market is extremely interested in technology but not aware of the STEM careers available within the manufacturing industry. Educating the public about STEM careers should be the main priority of manufacturers. Without events like MFG Day to showcase technology driven manufacturing facilities the skills gap will only continue to get worse. Manufacturers need to understand what the new generations are looking for in a career and begin to better represent manufacturing to the public. The manufacturing industry is a highly advanced industry that continues to make use of the latest technologies available.