According to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ Workforce Imperative: A Manufacturing Education Strategy, “Manufacturing is a key component of modern society, enabling people to build the goods and products they need to eat, live, entertain and protect themselves.” But, recently, the industry has faced two challenges — an aging-out/retiring workforce and the lack of younger talent to fill positions — which both are contributing to up to 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs in the United States.
This shortage of available, qualified workers to keep domestic manufacturers competitive is due, in part, to a deficit in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills being taught in schools. And, according to Manpower, “The nature of manufacturing jobs has changed dramatically over recent decades because of new technologies. Many manufacturing technologies are all heavily computer-based. These are complex technologies, and programmers and operators of them require substantial technical training.”
With these career opportunities, it’s important for students and workers at the stage of choosing a career or training to consider a career in manufacturing due to:
- The availability of jobs
- The opportunity to apply creativity and innovation
- Financial rewards (average starting salaries: $24/hour with associate’s and $57,000/year with bachelor’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- An under-representation of women and minorities
There are a variety of openings in production, maintenance and repair, transportation/logistics, product development, engineering, sales, management and administration that require critical thinking and problem solving skills, which can be learned through hands-on technical programs, industry certifications, or two- and four-year degree programs.
Click here for a list of colleges in Ohio that offer two- and four-year degree programs in manufacturing technology. The Ohio Department of Higher Education also offers manufacturing education resources. Two organizations with websites that supply additional information are: The Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturers and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.