With more than half of U.S. skilled trades workers over the age of 45, it is important to look at the future of manufacturing. Over the next decade, it is predicted that nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be added while 2 million of those are expected to go unfilled.
As manufacturing processes and machinery become progressively digital, the knowledge to smoothly run a factory is more important than ever.
High school diplomas no longer meet the requirements for many factories.
“In our factories, there’s a computer about every 20 or 30 feet,” said Eric Spiegel, who recently retired as president and chief executive of Siemens U.S.A. “People on the plant floor need to be much more skilled than they were in the past. There are no jobs for high school graduates at Siemens today.”
John Deere dealerships repair million-dollar farming machinery filled with several dozen computers. Fixing tractors and grain harvesters now requires advanced math and comprehension skills and the ability to solve problems on the fly.
“The toolbox is now a computer,” said Andy Winnett, who directs the company’s agricultural program at Walla Walla Community College in Washington (Selingo, 2017).
The hardest positions to fill are those for computer numerical control (CNC) machine operators and programmers, machine maintenance workers, and welders. Also in demand are people with engineering degrees. Engineers are needed by most manufacturing sectors, but especially in the automotive, defense, electronics and automation industries (Hildreth, 2016).
Relevant degrees for the future of manufacturing technology include:
- Mechatronics Engineering
- Engineering Technology
- Industrial Engineering Technology
- Applied Engineering
- Robotics Engineering Technology
- Mechanical Engineering
View our E-Book to learn more about the different degrees and apprenticeship programs that are important for the future of manufacturing technology.
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