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ISA draws attention to the growing need for skilled manufacturing workers

September 28, 2018  By ISA

Sept. 28, 2018 – As Manufacturing Day, October 5, 2018, approaches, the International Society of Automation (ISA) and its affiliate association, the Automation Federation, celebrate the importance of manufacturing to the world’s economic health and future.

Supported by leading manufacturers and other industry supporters, Manufacturing Day is designed to amplify the voice of individual companies and coordinate a collective movement toward greater understanding and solutions to key manufacturing challenges.

A pressing challenge facing manufacturers in the US is the growing skills gap. Experts project that over the next 10 years nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed. However, because of the ongoing shortage of qualified workers, up to 2 million of these jobs may go unfilled.

Today, six out of 10 production jobs remain open because of the talent shortage, according to a recent study by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte.


“As an association comprised of many professionals involved in manufacturing throughout the world, ISA is innately aware of the vital role manufacturing plays in increasing technological innovation and driving global economic growth,” says Mary Ramsey, ISA Executive Director. “But to sustain strong manufacturing capabilities you must have a skilled, educated workforce.”

Closing the skills gap, Ramsey points out, will require a significant influx of talented young workers in all fields of engineering, including automation and control—particularly given that throngs of current manufacturing workers, part of the Baby Boomer Generation, are on the verge of retirement.

“Manufacturing Day is important because it’s an opportunity to expand awareness of these challenges and take action to turn the tide,” she emphasizes. “Much more needs to be done to encourage more young people to pursue STEM-centric education and career fields.”

Because the workforce shortage is increasing demand for and the value of qualified workers, new graduates and others who have the right technical skills are likely to obtain well-paying positions.

Learn how you can support Manufacturing Day
Companies, community groups, other organizations as well as individuals are encouraged to support and recognize Manufacturing Day. The most visible and influential way to get involved is by hosting a Manufacturing Day event. Examples include:

  • Plant tours
  • Manufacturing community events and expos (through collaboration with numerous companies)
  • Job fairs
  • Educational fairs
  • Celebrations of the manufacturing community

Currently, there are more than 1,800 events scheduled in support of Manufacturing Day.

Of course, participating in an established Manufacturing Day event is a highly valued way to contribute as well. On the Manufacturing Day website, you’ll find a wealth of resources for those interested in hosting an event or participating in one. Among the useful materials provided are:

  • Planning guides and tool kits
  • Resources on how and why to get involved
  • Links to informative webinars
  • Open house tips
  • Answers to FAQs
  • Logos, banners and infographics
  • A media guide and media kit

The role of the Automation Federation in helping to develop the manufacturing workforce of the future
As the “Voice of Automation” and an association founded by ISA, the Automation Federation works with its member organizations and working groups—as well as ISA members—to increase awareness about the value of advanced manufacturing and to support STEM initiatives in schools and communities.

“Our member organizations and many ISA members are actively engaged in grassroots efforts to improve and expand the learning of STEM and get more young people excited about careers in manufacturing,” reports Marty Edwards, Managing Director of the Automation Federation. “These activities are essential if we are to prepare young people to compete for the well-paying jobs in an increasingly high-tech, high-skill marketplace.”

Edwards encourages all professionals in automation, manufacturing and engineering learn more about how they can contribute to the future of today’s young people. He says the following three partner organizations of ISA and the Automation Federation have well-established STEM-focused programs that offer many rewarding ways to get involved and volunteer.

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