Traditionally, manufacturing relied on manual labor. If you worked in a factory, you would hammer, lift, or torque. You didn’t need a college education, and a high school diploma or GED were considered icing on the cake. Workers could walk into a plant, receive a few instructions, and promptly get to work.
But manufacturing is changing. Industrial automation is displacing low-skill workers, the jobs still done by humans require more training, and there aren’t enough people able to fill these skilled positions.
Automation means fewer low-skill jobs
The number of low-skill jobs in the manufacturing industry is decreasing. There’s still a place for low-skill workers, but industrial robots are taking over many of the positions once held by humans. It’s easier, more affordable, and more efficient to automate these jobs. Plus, industrial robots don’t take breaks, they don’t get sick or injured, they don’t get paid overtime, and they don’t make mistakes. Plants are able to employ fewer workers while at the same time increasing production.
More training and education required in factories
There are still many positions that can’t be automated, however. These positions require human workers. However, they also require more education and more skill than traditional manufacturing jobs. The percentage of manufacturing employees without education past high school decreased 9% since 2000, and the percentage of manufacturing employees with a graduate degree increased 8 points. There
The skills gap
Technology drives industry, and many of the old manufacturing skill sets no longer cut it. That’s one of the reasons that job openings outnumber new hires in manufacturing. There’s still a need for workers, but there’s a shortage in workers with the right skills for the job.
This has created fierce competition among manufacturers to bring in qualified workers. However, many smaller manufacturers are unable to compete with larger companies when it comes to drawing in skilled, educated workers. So apprenticeships and early recruitment are becoming more important.