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How Working in Manufacturing Means Going Back to School

How to Get Manufacturing Jobs

Tips on How to Get Jobs in Manufacturing

Manufacturing jobs are slowly returning to the western world and while it’s still nowhere near the levels it was a few decades ago (12 million Americans employed today versus 17 million in the ‘boom’), there are positive signs of recovery. For example, Apple is producing a line of computers based out of the U.S. and since 2010, 500,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created while more businesses are producing on-shore instead of going off-shore for work. While this is great news, there is one horrible question: are people ready to work in these positions?

Little Billy and Debbie Can’t Drop Out

Once upon a time, manufacturing jobs were relatively easy to get and did not require much in the way of an education besides learning how to make whatever it was you were working on. High school drop-outs could usually land a fairly decent job in a manufacturing plant and get back on their feet. However, those days are gone and they have been replaced by a need for employees who know how to run, maintain and fix the sophisticated equipment which are now doing the grunt work that the untrained labor used to do. Whether people like it or not, working in manufacturing now requires a certain level of education and skill-at the moment, a two year tech degree is required, as well as skills such as welding, computer know-how and/or whatever else the manufacturer will need. We’re not just building cars and pipes anymore; any of the manufacturing jobs are now in the business of making computers, iPads, tablets, solar panels and more automated appliances and that requires skill.

At the moment, this means that there is actually something of a labor shortage as many people do not have the skills required for the jobs that are open. Not only is a two year degree and complimentary skills necessary, but in the near future, that could change to a four year degree and many people simply don’t have those skills, at least not yet. And that means that it’s hard for even the most idealistic, at home manufactured plants to actually function, in spite of the fact that it’s easier than ever to stay on home turf. Worse still, education is still not up to the challenge of producing graduates capable of snagging these jobs; in the States, education systems rank 11th out of 16 countries; pretty bad. ( http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/education.aspx ).

So, it is more important than ever to either stay in school or go back to school as quickly as possible in order to start taking advantage of job openings. Getting a tech degree is a great start as is getting an experience in a hands-on skill related to the type of manufacturing you’re interested in doing, such as electrical, welding and engineering.

The Cause of the Increase in Manufacturing Jobs

Fortunately, the slow but steady increase in manufacturing jobs does not seem to be a temporary or ephemeral thing, there are some very strong economics at work here and trends which will continue into the future. A few things have come together to make America and other parts of the west a better place in which to do business:

  • The wage gap between China and America is closing. While Americans still make 7.5 times more than their Chinese counterparts, the fact is that the cost of labor is rising. This, in conjunction with the increased costs of shipping things back home to sell and the costs of building plants and so on overseas means that it’s becoming more profitable to stay closer to home, so to speak.
  • The shale gas and oil boom, for all of its environmental concerns and the fact that it’s temporary, has made staying in the west more appealing because energy is cheaper.
  • However, if education reforms don’t come into being, there will always be a shortage of skilled workers and that means the manufacturing boom could end before it even begins.

    If you want to work in manufacturing, then it’s important to get a good education in technology and have a love of mathematics, technology and machinery. It would also be a good idea to have some working knowledge of things like green energy, management, and people skills. Tech degrees are a great place to start if you’re not sure where else to go as they’ll give you a great grounding. You should also look at co-op programs and internships while in school to get a good footing.

    Manufacturing jobs are on the rebound, but it’s up to people to take advantage of them. Get your start in manufacturing with the right education and good luck!