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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.
SME is a founding partner in the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System and serves as a leading voice in national discussions on manufacturing workforce issues. The Society’s educational programs, including its online courses offered through Tooling U, map to the skills certification system and are based on an industry-validated body of knowledge.
The Workforce Imperative strategy is already being embraced among leaders in manufacturing education, workforce development and STEM supporters. Early endorsers include ACT, the Automation Federation, the American Society for Engineering Education’s (ASEE) Corporate Member Council, Engineering Technology Council and Manufacturing Division, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE), FIRST, the National Center for Manufacturing Education (NCME), Project Lead the Way (PLTW), SkillsUSA, and the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC).
For more information on SME’s recommendations or to download a copy of the strategy, visit sme.org/WorkforceImperative or send an email to WorkforceImperative@sme.org.
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is the premier source for manufacturing knowledge, education and networking. Through its many programs, events, magazines, publications and online training division, Tooling U, SME connects manufacturing practitioners to each other, to the latest technologies and to the most up-to-date manufacturing processes. SME has members around the world and is supported by a network of chapters and technical communities. A 501(c)3 organization, SME is a leader in manufacturing workforce development issues, working with industry, academic and government partners to support the current and future skilled workforce. For more information, visit: sme.org.