There is a negative perception of manufacturing right now–that the profession is risky, low-paying, with no benefits and high potential for getting laid-off. This perception of manufacturing in America is outdated and has more to do with misconceptions of the benefits of offshoring than the essential evolution of manufacturing in the United States. If Manufacturing in the United States were its own country, it would rank today as the eighth largest economy with an impressive leadership in high-tech manufacturing. This is where STEM steps in as one of the most important assets to manufacturing in terms of education, lucrative benefits for manufacturing companies, and financial reward for employees with these highly-needed skills. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and is quickly becoming one of the most sought after skills in the manufacturing market.
The employee of tomorrow in the manufacturing market will be an archetype far more developed than that of the Model-T line production days. The skills required for the manufacturer of tomorrow will include critical thinking abilities, design, automation, as well as innovation in both hardware and software. Therefore, it is important to take a step back and think hard about our common misunderstandings of manufacturing jobs as nonacademic or careers for the under educated. We must continue to emphasize the importance of STEM skills not only in the current workforce but also in the workforce of tomorrow.
The economic success of our country relies on a strong foundation in STEM education– not only as preparation for the manufacturing but also as innovative in-classroom approaches and methodologies required for all work forces of tomorrow. Within the next five years, STEM jobs will grow twice as quickly. Over the next decade, over 80% of jobs will require technological skills. It is important to start integrating skills with innovation, engineering, and technology into our common curriculum in schools. Think about the benefits for manufacturers when the next generation workforce comes in with abilities in robotics, hardware and software, and critical thinking. High-tech manufacturing is growing in America and we can’t overlook the necessity of these skills in the future workforce.
The greatest thing about the future of STEM skills in our manufacturing industry is that it would already respond to the problems of today effectively and efficiently. Considering the vast amount of entrepreneurship in novel manufacturing startups and the increased amount of re-shoring underway in the United States, STEM skills will be a profitable commodity for the economy. The abilities for computer design, engineering, and advanced mathematical analysis not only increase product development and quality but also receive notoriety from potential investors and even federal grant incentives, like ones that have been given to many small manufacturing companies from the Obama Administration.
The implementation of science, technology, engineering, and math in our economy is already a growing necessity. These skills give companies the abilities to innovate and use sound science and analysis as a method for that innovation. Soon, in the not too distant future, our workforce will have jobs that require these skills. How amazing would it be to see these skills integrated into our manufacturing companies today–before it is a requirement? It’s time to demonstrate the relevance of the high-tech manufacturing job market to our future workforce and show just how important STEM skills in the manufacturing industry can be in developing a strong American economy.
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