In past blogs, such as this, I've commented on articles that focus on the skills and employment opportunities in manufacturing. I've also lamented the lack of education that kids get when it comes to the wonderful opportunities in manufacturing careers. I recently read an article in Industry Week by Michael Collins titled "Let's Get Real About the Skills Gap and Start Solving it" and really liked what he had to say.
Anyone in industry these days understands that there is a manufacturing skill set that is aging out of the workforce that hasn't been replaced. In all likelihood, it's probably due to policies like NAFTA and others that have made it enticing for companies to move operations out of the country. In doing so, the past two generations have been dissuaded by parents, counselors and teachers alike to get higher education in other fields. In fact, there is a stigma against "trades" like machinist, toolmaker, welders and other manufacturing jobs. The perception is that manufacturing isn't coming back or is dead. The ironic thing is that there is a huge push for STEM these days...well where do you think these engineers are going to work?
"Demand. The fact that 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled in the next decade shows incredible demand."- Michael Collins
I encourage you to read Michael's article, as he touches on manufacturing opportunities such as demand, technology, white collar and blue collar jobs. And gives a compelling case for teachers, counselors and parents.
One important point that I'd like to add here is that is overlooked in the article and in general is the opportunities for growth within the field. What I think a lot of people don't see is that starting off as a machinist or other skilled worker is a very good path for a management or higher level career in manufacturing. Manufacturers seek to promote technically capable people from within that have a large knowledge of processes and technical competence. Beginning your career on the factory floor can play an excellent role in your career development. Parents and future employees should be well aware.