As the economy begins to show signs of improvement, manufacturing seems to be on it's way to better days in America. Although the Oil & Gas Industry is still lagging far behind, other industries such as Automotive, Aerospace and Medical are showing great signs of stabilization and growth.
This however leaves manufacturing in a precarious situation. For a decade or more, the United States put the importance of manufacturing education on the back burner. States closed technical schools, large corporations started to suspend their in-house apprenticeship programs and little by little the skilled manufacturing labor force dwindled.
In contrast to this, college education for academic positions such as engineering thrived as the government pumped student loan guarantees to an all time high. The results, thousands upon thousands of of new engineers flooding the market to support manufacturing jobs that were no longer there.
The problem however goes much deeper than this. With the average manufacturing employee in their 50's and 60's, there are fewer and fewer people to train the incoming machinists and engineers. Subsequently, what we now face is not enough young people to man the machines and a whole lot of new engineers that have the skills to design anything; they just have no idea what to design or how to go about conceptualizing it.
Specialty areas of manufacturing such as Tool, Die and Gage are hanging on by a thread. Finding people skilled in these areas can take several months and when you do find them, they are only a few years away from retirement.
The need to train is now. Time is of the essence. Moving forward, the only manufacturing companies that will survive are the ones that aggressively pursue in house training and apprenticeship programs before the skilled workforce they currently have is gone.