Some of the biggest jobs in the U.S. are in manufacturing, according to Livingston Daily, which reported on some of the trends occurring in Michigan. Examples of major employment opportunities include welding and systems engineers. Manufacturing continues to become a more streamlined industry than it used to be, but jobs in that sector continue to grow because many of its employees are leaving the workforce.
"Basically, there's a need to find replacement workers for people who are getting older and retiring," said Lou Glazer, president of nonpartisan think tank Michigan Future, Livingston Daily reported. "It's clear there's not enough people going in."
Manufacturing in the U.S. is growing, according to Forbes. It doesn't have the same impact as it once did, but its importance is still felt because it is 13 percent of the economy. While this number is small, it is gradually increasing, and many of the major entrepreneurs who are getting involved in the business have a plan to raise this number. The young people coming into the job have new plans, both in terms of entrepreneurship and working hands-on in the industry.
Young people changing the world of manufacturing
A separate Forbes article indicated that the major changes in the manufacturing sector have to do with technology. Nanoscale chemistry and 3D printing are both going to become big parts of the industry. Businesses will be able to order something extremely customized in terms of what the object looks like and what kind of material it is made from. This means the outlook for new manufacturing businesses is going to be small-scale and focused on specific solutions. Young people are getting involved in this work, either on the entrepreneurial side or as apprentices to people who are leaving the workforce.
Many of the people who are revolutionizing the way products are made are under 30. One such person is Nikki Kaufman, who has a company that makes 3D printed earbuds that are customized to fit inside a person's ear. Another company designs custom insoles for shoes that are molded to fit someone's foot.
The big innovators are all offering custom solutions to specific problems. While this is still manufacturing, it is far different from a car that is built to exact specifications, with each one looking the same. As 3D printing advances and becomes better able to make large, extremely specific parts for particular jobs, the work will become more highly technical, and require strong skills in science, engineering and technology.
While the jobs being done by professional manufacturers are changing and relying more on robots and machines than people, other workers are just beginning to learn the fine techniques that traditional manufacturing relied upon. They are doing this through apprenticeships, Trib Live reported.
Part of the reason for this decision by many companies to hire people to work under the more experienced experts is that the number of already-qualified people was so small.
"Our shortcoming was our human resources," said Ashley Wellner, director of manufacturing at the O'Hara company. "We have space to put the machines, but we don't have the people to run them."
The aerospace sector is one place where workers with enough experience are hard to find. Other sectors are automotive and the medical industry. Companies need people who can operate heavy machines safely and effectively as older workers begin to retire.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez has come out in favor of apprenticeships because they lead to good-paying employment without debt. For those who can't afford a four-year degree, often becoming an apprentice to someone is the best way to gain the skills for earning a middle-class living.