MRO Magazine

Resources needed to build skilled workforce for manufacturing

Dearborn, MI -- Even as the most recent reports show a slight rise in unemployment, in the United States, manufacturers there are facing an unusual situation: the inability to find qualified workers. And while this is a concern today, it will...


Human Resources

June 20, 2011
By MRO Magazine

Dearborn, MI — Even as the most recent reports show a slight rise in unemployment, in the United States, manufacturers there are facing an unusual situation: the inability to find qualified workers. And while this is a concern today, it will reach crisis level in coming years, according to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

“As the economy recovers and manufacturing continues to gain momentum and strength, finding skilled and educated workers will be the biggest issue for employers in the immediate future and possibly for years to come,” said Mark Tomlinson, executive director/CEO for the SME — a leader in manufacturing workforce development.

The concern over the skilled worker issue was cited by many presenters at the SME Annual Conference in June in Bellevue, WA.

The reason: manufacturing has evolved from the labour-heavy, smokestack-spewing industry of the 20th century to an advanced manufacturing industry reliant on knowledge workers with high technical skills who are more apt to work in a clean room on high-tech equipment than in a Henry Ford-esque factory.

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With the looming retirement of 76 million baby boomers, declining graduations from engineering and technical schools, and a lack of interest in science, technology, engineering and science courses (STEM) in middle and high schools, today’s difficulty in finding qualified workers is on course to become a national economic and security crisis.

SME is working with partners in industry, education and government to help prevent this impending calamity. SME builds the skills of the incumbent worker with its resources of manufacturing knowledge, professional certifications, on-line and in-person training and events, and member-to-member interaction.

SME also supports competency-based education that is validated by assessments and industry standards through programs such as the National Association of Manufacturers-endorsed Skills Certification System. Through its Education Foundation, SME also is inspiring and engaging K-12 students in the STEM subjects in order to build the pipeline of skilled workers for the future.

“The goal is to provide educated, skilled workers to fill manufacturing jobs — middle-class jobs that can support a family.”

For more information, visit http://www.sme.org.