Being that we are interested, like our customers, in all things manufacturing, we’ll veer off-topic just a tad today to share what’s revealed in a recent study entitled “Advanced Manufacturing in the United States: Toward Diversified Industries and an Educated Workforce,” released by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University and as reported by Michael Hicks, the Center’s director to The South Bend (Indiana) Tribune.
While the details pertain to one Midwestern state (Indiana) the principles are applicable, we think, to the manufacturing sector overall, particularly here in the Midwest. Among the report’s findings:
- A high school diploma no longer carries the weight it once did in the manufacturing field (no surprise there, right?), which is “relying less on blue-collar production workers and more on college graduates with technical training” according to the Tribune.
- Jobs in (Indiana’s) advanced manufacturing sector now commonly require at least a two-year associate degree, and…
- Those jobs are quickly moving off the production floor – and now involve watching displays, doing laser tests and quality control analysis.
The report goes on to point out that the term “advanced manufacturing” refers to the use of technology to improve products and processes, and applies to areas that “consistently improve production techniques with new technology.”
Advanced manufacturing jobs account for 53% of all manufacturing employment in Indiana, the study found. From 2010 to 2013 Indiana’s share of advanced manufacturing jobs climbed by nearly 2%. The study also found that traditional blue collar jobs have declined over the past decade, as high-volume, repetitive production in factories is increasingly being done by machines instead of humans.
The Center for Business and Economic Research also notes that Indiana has nearly a quarter million jobs in advanced manufacturing plans, of which:
- 17.4% are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)-related occupations
- 24.7% are “white collar” jobs
- 57.8% are “blue collar and other” occupations
Increasingly, the study finds, advanced machinery has created opportunities for skilled positions that require a college education. Even the more traditional blue collar jobs now require a two-year degree, coupled with a willingness to learn and change, and to work in much more technical, STEM-related work.
As a result, the Center’s director, Michael Hicks recommends “that high schools focus not just on college preparation but on exposing kids to technical training who aren’t thinking about college,” noting that schools today need to do a better job exposing students to career opportunities that require technical training. He notes that Indiana is roughly on a par with other states in this regard – and implies that improvement is needed. The Center’s report can be found here.