#88 – Inside Our Industry – Innovation Is a Game Changer for US Manufacturing and Workforce Development

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

Is innovation happening too quickly? Can innovation happen too fast? Maybe, especially if it leads to a widening skills gap.

Innovation Is a Game Changer for US Manufacturing and Workforce Development
February 23, 2022  |  Harry Moser  |  assemblymag.com

The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled a national movement to strengthen domestic supply chains and reshore. Recruitment of the next generation of skilled manufacturing talent is paramount to this effort, but there is a widening gap between the skills needed by industry and the skills of job candidates. There are two leading reasons for the skills gap. First, a lack of recruits. Second, the pace of innovation. For U.S. manufacturing and workforce development, innovation is a game changer.

Young people have a preconceived image of manufacturing careers being dark, dirty, dangerous and disappearing, consistent with the 1950s reality and the impact of decades of offshoring. But conditions have dramatically improved, and much of today’s manufacturing is bright, clean, safe and expanding. To improve the perception of manufacturing and attract more young workers, the industry needs to show that modern manufacturing is a high-skilled, high-tech, high-paying, stable career choice.

Many of today’s manufacturing environments look more like clean rooms, especially facilities that manufacture electronics, pharmaceutical products and medical equipment. Companies are realizing the financial and environmental benefits of investing in new technologies and processes that reduce expenses, maximize profits and boost brand reputations on behalf of workers and consumers.

Eighty-eight percent of industrial businesses are now prioritizing sustainable manufacturing. Sustainability is the management of environmental, social and economic impacts. Reshoring checks all of the sustainability boxes, since it reduces environmental impact, has a positive societal effect, and manufacturing’s high multiplier effect stimulates more economic activity than other sectors. And, a reduced carbon footprint makes a positive difference on employee and community health and safety.

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