Advanced technologies are requiring a higher level of education for workers, and the pool of workers available for manufacturing continues to shrink, Eric Mittelstadt, chief executive officer of the National Council for Advanced Manufacturing said in testifying before the House Science & Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. Mittelstadt testified in hearings on the role of community colleges and industry in meeting the demand for skilled production workers and technicians in the 21st century economy.
“Manufacturing production workers and technicians require increasing skills because of the growing use of automation, information technology, statistical quality control, lead, just-in-time delivery, etc. This added sophistication of production jobs is magnified by the impending shrinking of the U.S. workforce due to the retirement of millions of ‘baby boomers’ over the next decade,” Mittelstadt told the subcommittee. “Thus the current and near-future outlook for graduates of technical training programs is excellent, even as increasing productivity continues to reduce the number of traditional manufacturing jobs, similar to agriculture in the previous century.”
Mittelstadt pointed to the “new paradigm of network-centric manufacturing” and the new level of “intense collaboration” that is required among OEMs and suppliers, “as well as with labor, education and government. The future competitiveness of our nation depends upon the success of that ‘intenst collaboration,’” stated Mittelstadt.
With a current and growing shortage of qualified workers in many areas of skilled jobs, this shortage will only increase unless “educational institutions” make a collaborative effort with companies and trade associations to attract more students to careers in the skilled trades. This is “essential to U.S. manufacturing competitivenes in the hyper-competitive global economy of today and the future,” Mittelstadt said.
Mittelstadt’s complete testimony can be found at www.nacfam.org/pr.html).