Tag Archives: stem education

Manufacturing Needs Skilled Workers

A rather common ‘theme’ for U.S. manufacturers in today’s workplace is the difficulty in finding trained, qualified talent to fill a variety of skilled labor positions.

Whether it is painting a part or turning a wrench, or now, operating intricate machinery, specific skill sets need to be acquired through training or schooling for high quality demanding manufacturing. With the increased  level of automation and sophisticated controls has arisen the need for trained and qualified workers more than ever before.  So what has been the recent trend?

  • Specialized Skills – One of the reasons the skills gap has occurred is that new technology and improved processes require higher, more specialized skill sets. At best, the manufacturing of 25-35 years ago would have been considered semi-skilled. Now, the majority of unskilled or semi-skilled jobs and processes have been outsourced, meaning that the jobs that have been retained require advanced skill sets.
  • Lagging Education – Over the last 25 to 30 years, the manufacturing education system has been reduced or eliminated, so it has become harder for potential manufacturing employees to get training. Manufacturing has also reduced apprenticeships programs. Both of these need to be revitalized to improve the number of skilled and qualified workers.
  • A Rebounding Industry – The layoffs and cutbacks that date back to before the recent recession are now being looked at as likely having been too drastic, forcing manufacturing workers into new careers. Many of these ex-manufacturing workers will be hesitant to return to former careers.
  • Different Mindsets – Both manufacturers and potential employees need to change their mindsets. Manufacturing is no longer the dirty plants of years past, needing mid-level skill sets to earn mid-level wages. Many members of the boomer generation still look at manufacturing this way, and pass on that idea to their children, when manufacturing has actually raised working conditions as well as skills. However, not all manufacturers have been willing to produce wages and incentives that should coincide with the increased need in skills. Both sides need to work on this issue.

Here at Hi-Tek Manufacturing, we are always searching for more skilled and qualified CNC machine operators, along with engineers, programmers, and many other positions. As a leading manufacturer in the high-growth field of both aerospace and power generation turbine engine components, we are constantly growing and developing as the demand continues to increase. We are committed to growing the manufacturing workforce, training new workers when needed, and offering wages and packages fitting the skill sets required. Check out our careers page for more information!

US Manufacturing is Expanding

Hi Tek growth in mfg

Manufacturing is growing in the US at a substantial rate over these past few months, surpassing expectations and showing that the industry has served as a source of strength for the economy recently. According to Bloomberg.com, manufacturing accounts for roughly 12 percent of the economy. Of the 18 industries covered, 14 reported expansion in October, most of which were led by textile mills, according to the ISM. In fact, the Institute for Supply Management’s index is currently the highest it’s been since April 2011, reaching 56.4 this past October, up from 56.2 in September.

In addition to this growth, the ISM reported that the measure of US new orders has exceeded 60 for three consecutive months, the longest since the beginning of 2011. Supplier deliver times have also grown, rising to their highest level since June 2011, and an index of production cooled to 60.8 from 62.6.

US manufacturing has seen its fair share of struggles in terms of finding qualified people to work for the industry, but now, as these numbers show, the industry is starting to become stronger. Skeptics can see that manufacturers are steadily rising in the market, and if the industry stays on this track, it can only lead to the job market becoming stronger. The Boston Consulting Group has even predicted that manufacturing could create up to an additional 5 million jobs by 2020. As long as the momentum stays strong, and young people get involved through STEM education, the trajectory will lead to even more substantial growth in the years ahead.

Preparing the Engineers of the Future

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The fact that manufacturing in America has made a comeback is now yesterday’s news. Innovation, cost-effectiveness, and quality products have brought it back. Today’s news is now centered on the manufacturing skills shortage—the jobs are back, but there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill them. So the question is, what does that mean for tomorrow?

Statistics show that 33% of American 25-29 year olds have a bachelor degree (or higher), up from only about 20% several decades ago.  But are they learning the skills they need for real-world employment? Do enough young people know how to work in—and advance in—a technical or engineering career, where the jobs are open and waiting for them?

Programs throughout the country are working toward this.  STEM education is being promoted, and in programs such as California’s Linked Learning and Albany’s Tech Valley High, students are benefitting from career-focused training that will prepare them for a successful future, and possibly help fill the skills gap.  The hope is that more schools will follow the lead.

As a high-tech, low-volume company, Hi-Tek doesn’t build a ton of individual piece parts, but the parts we do build are very difficult to manufacture.  So when a young hire comes to us, rather than sitting in a shop, working on a stamping machine all day and watching widgets as they watch the clock, they are coming to us with a high degree of machining expertise, and the opportunity to be challenged daily, while producing quality parts.

Of course, this requires thorough training and education, and above-average technical skills.  If the examples set forth by the high schools and colleges who are doing this training early are followed by other schools in the country, there’s no telling what the future will bring.