The keys to America’s next manufacturing renaissance

Perhaps contrary to popular belief, the United States is at the forefront in 2022 as it experiences its next manufacturing renaissance.

From chemical manufacturers and metal benders to aerospace/defense and semiconductor chip makers, a recent Bloomberg editorial backs up the statement: The manufacturing economy is not only booming, it’s “simmering.”

The industry has also proven its tenacity. From the seismic shifts during the recession 10 years ago to the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, manufacturing has been the beacon of America’s economic development, exemplifying its competitive spirit in the face of adversity.

Amid the enduring blessings of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), US manufacturing continues to evolve and is now home to more innovation, development and consequently job vacancies than perhaps ever before. That marked shift, however, has exposed skills and employment gaps that have been exacerbated by the “Great Resignation” – a scenario compounded by a rise in demand and wages – and the impetus for a revival of recently disrupted supply chains.

In this climate, manufacturers remain cautiously optimistic, understanding the ongoing risks, recurring and unexpected disruptions and fragile operating margins, as well as the pressures of inflation and skills shortages.

Across the country, both the public and private sectors have been alerted to emerging patterns and tentatively identified causes. The US is now eyeing the keys to ushering in the proposed manufacturing renaissance.

But there are stumbling blocks. A declining population and the ongoing retirement of the baby boomer generation are causes for concern. Additionally, the stigma attached to manufacturing jobs for the current working generation further widens the gap.

Additionally, persistent barriers to employment, compounded by the ongoing domino effects of the global pandemic, are causing disruptions to job search and hiring practices.

A rapid advance of industrial technology continues; This is accompanied by delayed or stubborn academic and curricular progress. Limited instructor capacity and supposedly archaic equipment in the education system prevent new workers from learning and understanding the machines; which in turn prevents the manufacturing sector from operating at maximum efficiency.

As an integral part of the economy, manufacturers must continue to defend themselves against domestic and global disruptions. Manufacturing accounts for over 11% of the country’s GDP and the nation is forced to actively compete with other global manufacturing titans to maintain its position. Smart factories and sustainability initiatives, as well as emerging technologies in semiconductor chips, electric vehicles (EVs), aerospace/defense, and plastics/polymers are also helping to keep the US competitive in 2022.

However, the growth of industries based on manufacturing and engineering technology is not yet uniform across the country.

There are regionally recognized areas where manufacturing employers are developing, growing and commanding highly and uniquely skilled technicians. For example, California, Texas and Ohio currently employ the most people in manufacturing in America.

States like Maryland and Missouri also show promise. A great effort is being made to announce mega sites in developed states like Indiana, Michigan, Kansas, Georgia and Arkansas. These initiatives, when implemented, create promising and regionally equitable economic realities.

This data, best practices, and forecasts are captured in The State of the Workforce in Manufacturing: An American Industry Outlook, as presented by Thomas P. Miller & Associates.

Manufacturing in the US has historically been and will be a powerhouse again, which is why we often refer to manufacturing as the backbone of America.

Now is the time to play matchmaker within the entire ecosystem of manufacturing workers and a larger economic development process. We must act urgently and with agility to strengthen relationships between all stakeholders and accelerate innovation in training, education, research and workforce attraction, while further promoting sustainable, replicable career opportunities.

Organizations like Valor Manufacturing Training and 180 Skills are leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) and providing the kind of online technical education experiences that can help close the skills gap. We need organizations like yours to train established workers and drive recruitment; fill vacancies in days, not weeks or months; Providing platforms that reduce employer costs related to training and turnover.

The opportunity to once again use manufacturing to strengthen the workforce and provide comfortable, middle- to upper-middle class livelihoods for millions of Americans from all walks of life cannot be taken for granted.

The ability to make the US the world’s leading economic powerhouse rests once again on our shoulders.

In short, the time is now. It’s time to produce.

dr Vicki King-Maple and Steven Gause work at leading business development firm Thomas P. Miller & Associates (TPMA) The keys to America’s next manufacturing renaissance

Fry Electronics Team

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