After decades of job loss and a struggling reputation, manufacturing has made a comeback in the United States. Since the recession, production jobs have increased—and so have the knowledge and skill requirements.
After analyzing hundreds of thousands of job postings, Emsi, a labor market data supplier, observed that manufacturers need multi-functional engineering technicians possessing both traditional manufacturing and engineering skills. The result is that today's high-value production worker is a hybrid of a boots-on-the-ground technician and an engineer laser-focused on improving how things get done.
The technical skills required yield competitive wages and also transfer well to other in-demand industries such as finance, professional services, and health care. To ensure the future of domestic manufacturing, educators and employers must recognize the potential of these high-skilled production jobs and work together to train the next generation of workers. Highlights of the analysis:
- Manufacturing has added nearly one million new jobs since the end of the recession. A growing share of these jobs require postsecondary education.
- Domestic manufacturing increasingly behaves like a high-tech industry in that it needs a smaller, specialized workforce.
- Employers need workers who blend traditional production skills (machining, welding, fabrication technologies) with engineering skills (process improvement, quality assurance, design).
- Workers who successfully blend these skills receive higher wages and, perhaps more importantly, can move up the career ladder in their companies or transition to other industries.