The stigma of manufacturing work is not good. Dirty, tedious and grueling — that’s what we’re taught. We are also taught in schools to pursue higher education for the purpose of getting positions such as doctors or lawyers. However, this may be short-sighted because modern manufacturing has changed — and for the better. Today, it’s highly automated and utilizes advanced technology, making it clean and safe. And, as of June, there were 600,000 open jobs in manufacturing in the US. What entrepreneur Ken Rusk calls a “Blue-Collar Boom.”
This quiet revolution is bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US. However, we need the workforce to meet it. Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute have estimated that 2.1 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled in 2030. This lack of labor is causing manufacturers not to meet production demands, leading to longer lead times and reduced output. We need to solve this labor shortage, and the excitement around artificial intelligence (AI) may be our inroad.
AI has been in manufacturing in some shape or form for years, but it continues to grow within the sector. This new growth has created excitement. Not only have AI and robots played a crucial role in improving productivity and accuracy, but this recent influx of technology may be what attracts the next generation of workers. For the digitally raised youth, this is what they were made to do. Manufacturing can involve computer science, engineering, business, finance and mathematics. And it involves well-paying, well-respected jobs for the taking.
At the manufacturing level, there is still some work to be done to embrace this new generation:
Over the last 12 years, we’ve seen a lot of technology adoption, but we have not seen a lot of job loss. In fact, we’ve seen job gains. There is a lot of opportunity to reimagine jobs to add value that AI will help to illuminate.
MI Vice President of Workforce Solutions Gardner Carrick
All in all, while AI is indeed taking over monotonous, repetitive tasks, experts stress that the industry will continue to center around human labor, and the numbers prove it with 600,000 open jobs. Manufacturing has invested in AI to the tune of $94 billion dollars as of May, according to Stanford’s AI Index Report, and now it needs to invest in its workforce. So we, as a society, need to invest in our youth, so that they’ll keep it up and running long into the future.
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