For instance, a person who is making the titanium orthopedic part for a knee replacement needs these skills to produce the part with the precision and quality that will meet FDA standards and last the patient’s lifetime. At the same time, a worker has to be continually on the lookout for the company’s profitability.
Despite the crucial role manufacturing plays in our country, we face a serious risk of not being able to continue making things. In the coming decade, a critical shortage of skilled workers will collide with the retirement of 2.7 million baby boomers from manufacturing jobs. Without a skilled, educated labor pool, US manufacturing cannot compete globally. Without a competitive manufacturing sector, our economy is without an engine to power its recovery.
Though more support for the replenishment of the skilled labor pool is needed, industry and government appear to be moving in the right direction. There are an increasing number of signs that leaders in both circles recognize the gravity of this crisis and the immediacy of the need for action.
President Obama recently announced a “Skills for America’s Future” initiative aimed at training 500,000 workers for advanced manufacturing jobs. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) agrees that this critical issue needs to be discussed at our nation’s highest level in collaboration with industry, governmental agencies, and educators.