Skill up: How manufacturers are building the skilled labor pipeline, one program at a time

Skill up: How manufacturers are building the skilled labor pipeline, one program at a time

June 4, 2024
In this news roundup, see how educational institutions across the country are making STEM and manufacturing a priority.

It’s no secret that the manufacturing industry has a workforce problem. Despite continued growth in the sector, attracting and retaining the right workers is a concern that keeps many executives up at night. A recent report predicts that the manufacturing industry will need as many as 3.8 million new workers by 2033, but 1.9 million of those jobs could go unfilled. To combat this issue, manufacturers, industry organizations, and government officials at all levels are investing in education and training opportunities across the country. Here are a few examples of how industrial stakeholders are coming together to inspire, educate, and train the next generation of manufacturing workers. 

Construction has begun on a new 30,000-square-foot South Texas Workforce Development Project advanced manufacturing training facility located at Texas A&M University. The new facility will offer hands-on instruction and projects in advanced machinery, automation, digital technologies, communications skills, safety protocols, quality control, leadership and more. Since the workforce development project began in 2022, over 30 companies have enrolled employees in training at the hub, and the program has awarded more than 15,700 certificates to participants. In a recent quote, Governor Greg Abbott said, “This new state-of-the-art facility here at the Port of Brownsville will train Texans to lead the workforce of tomorrow. Students here will be prepared for in-demand jobs and receive hands-on instruction on real-world projects that are often encountered by workers on the job. They will get the experience and training they need to excel in cutting-edge manufacturing jobs here in the Rio Grande Valley and throughout Texas.” 
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MIT is developing a new curriculum to help strengthen the nation’s manufacturing workforce and give students who are not necessarily college bound exposure to advanced technologies and industry-relevant expertise. MIT is collaborating with the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Clemson University, Cape Cod Community College, and in the future the manufacturing software firm Tulip to make the program possible. In a recent quote, John Liu, an MIT lecturer, co-principal investigator for the project, and director of MIT’s Learning Engineering and Practice Group, said, "With increasing technological sophistication, the quickening pace of technology change, and ever-tightening standards, we need to incorporate quality education into manufacturing training programs. By integrating MIT's mind-and-hand approach to how we develop the manufacturing workforce, we can re-energize America’s factory floors, empower companies to move into advanced manufacturing, and support firms in adopting advanced manufacturing technologies.” 
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Binghamton University has received $1 million in funding to help train more than 100 students a year for a career in the advanced chip manufacturing industry. The money will be used to purchase equipment necessary to train students on the fundamentals of semiconductors and modern electronics manufacturing processes. In a recent quote, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “With the semiconductor industry booming in Upstate NY, we need to start getting our students the hands-on training now to prepare them to fill these careers to ensure these projects will be a success.” 
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Pennsylvania has awarded $3,050,357 in grants to 45 student research projects to help advance innovation in several sectors of manufacturing. Made possible by the Manufacturing PA initiative, the program pairs students with local manufacturers as they embark on research projects to develop new technologies and advance innovation statewide. In a recent quote, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger said, “The Shapiro Administration understands the importance of investing in cutting-edge research projects like these to generate continued economic growth and foster innovation in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania is home to some of the finest research institutions in the country, and I know the work of the students and projects funded here today will ensure we will remain a national leader in manufacturing and innovation.” 
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Senator Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin has announced that Western Technical College, in collaboration with eight other colleges from the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), will receive over $5.7 million in funding. The money will be used to expand training capacity, skill development, and credentialing within advanced manufacturing programs. This investment is made possible by the Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants program. In a recent quote, the senator said, “Wisconsin’s technical and community colleges equip students with the education and skills they need to land good-paying jobs and grow our local economy. Wisconsin has a proud tradition of manufacturing, and this investment will help grow the advanced manufacturing workforce of tomorrow, meet businesses’ workforce demands, and expand the middle class.”   
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About the Author

Alexis Gajewski | Senior Content Strategist

Alexis Gajewski has over 15 years of experience in the maintenance, reliability, operations, and manufacturing space. She joined Plant Services in 2008 and works to bring readers the news, insight, and information they need to make the right decisions for their plants. Alexis also authors “The Lighter Side of Manufacturing,” a blog that highlights the fun and innovative advances in the industrial sector. 

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