Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs
Paul Kingsley 01.25.2017
I’ve been in manufacturing for 30 years now and have seen many changes take place in the industry. When I started, most machine work was still done with manually operated equipment. I watched Computer Numerical Control (CNC) equipment gain a stronger and stronger foothold in the industry until it’s almost rare to see a manually controlled machine tool in any of the manufacturing facilities that I now visit. Along with the advancement and changes in the equipment have come some other changes as well.
Manufacturing Goes Modern
The modern manufacturing facility is a much different environment than most people visualize. Dirty, greasy, manual labor jobs are being replaced by more technical positions. Old, drafty, hot or cold manufacturing plants are giving way to modern climate controlled facilities and although it’s true that today’s higher tech manufacturing has reduced the number of people needed to produce a product, it does not mean that manufacturing doesn’t need people.
Creating a Void
When I was in high school I had the opportunity in the 10th grade to go to a county/district vocational school for a tour. There were a number of different programs there from cosmetology to welding and auto mechanics. I chose to take the two year Machine Technology course because it was so interesting to me to see how the things in my everyday life were made. Once out of high school, I went into the field with a good paying job rather than into college and a lot of student debt. This worked out well for me, but these days I see less opportunity for people to get the kind of hands on training I received. I think this is because we’re pushing people toward four-year degrees, and although that’s great for many, it leaves a void where skilled people are needed.
Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs
We should be showing young people that there are options other than four-year degrees and making sure that those options stay available. Bring back apprenticeship and vocational school programs. Create more two year tech school programs geared toward industry-specific needs. Actually show people, kids and adults, where the things in their everyday lives come from. It’s pretty interesting to see how the car you drive or the airplanes you fly in when you go on vacation are built. It takes many people in many different fields to produce those things as well as everything else you use in your day to day life. There are hundreds of thousands of job openings in manufacturing in the US right now and many of those don’t require a degree while still offering great pay and benefits, as well as opportunity for advancement.
If you’re young and in school or out of school looking for a change, take a look at some of the opportunities in manufacturing. Maybe you can help close the skills gap.
Paul Kingsley is Applications Engineer, Okuma America Corporation