The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) today put forth a national action plan:“Workforce Imperative: A Manufacturing Education Strategy,” at the 2012 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) at Chicago’s McCormick Place. It calls for manufacturers, educators, professional organizations and government to coordinate and standardize efforts aimed at reversing the skills gap crisis and preparing a skilled workforce for the high-tech manufacturing jobs of today and tomorrow.
The white paper addresses a manufacturing education void where 600,000 jobs are currently unfilled due to a shortage of properly trained workers. By 2015, that number is projected to reach 3 million openings. The report calls on all stakeholders, including educators and industry, to work together to close this gap through:
- Attracting more students into manufacturing
- Articulating a standard core of manufacturing knowledge
- Improving the consistency and quality of manufacturing education
- Integrating manufacturing topics into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education
- Developing faculty that deliver a world-class manufacturing education
- Strategically deploying resources to accomplish these goals
“It is imperative that manufacturing is working hand-in-hand with education to properly train and educate both our current and future workforce,” said SME 2012 President LaRoux K. Gillespie, Dr. Eng., FSME, CMfgE, PE, retired quality manager of Honeywell’s Federal Manufacturing & Technologies Division. “We must attract young people to the rewarding opportunities to improve the world around them that exist in manufacturing and then provide them with the educational foundation necessary to succeed.”
SME’s white paper is the culmination of two years of research by SME’s Task Force on the Role of SME in Higher Education and members of SME’s Manufacturing Education & Research Community, who closely examined the state of manufacturing education. The research was conducted through a series of events held to discuss manufacturing education, which engaged hundreds of stakeholders from industry, government and education.
“SME’s initiative demonstrates a vision that unites educators, industry, and government agencies in working toward a common goal of building our country’s 21st-century workforce,” said Martin L. Scaglione, president, ACT, Workforce Development Division.
The Manufacturing Education Strategy is the latest of SME’s ongoing contributions to solving the skilled worker shortage. It helps fill the pipeline through the various programs of the SME Education Foundation, including the Partnership Response in Manufacturing Engineering (PRIME) project which emphasizes a community-based approach to manufacturing education and job creation by creating strong partnerships between exemplary schools, businesses and organizations.