A trend over the past decade has been a shortage of qualified, skilled labor in demanding technical manufacturing jobs. But, with the costs of higher education skyrocketing, more and more high school students are taking advantage of the lower costs of technical education at community colleges. These students receive experience and education in high-demand technical manufacturing fields.
In 2014, the average annual tuition at a four-year private university was $31,231 and $9,139 for public colleges and universities. Alternatively, students enrolled at two-year colleges spent $3,347. While it remains true that average salaries for those with bachelor’s degrees tend to be higher than those with two-year degrees, there is still potential in the manufacturing industry to earn more than the median salary range for high-demand, technical jobs.
So what does this mean for manufacturing, especially in the nonwovens industry?
- Potentially, the shortage of skilled workers will go away in the next five to ten years as more students opt for a less expensive education.
- Today’s manufacturing jobs require advanced technical skills. Students who learn more about computer-controlled machinery, robots, high-speed processes and 3-D and 4-D imaging will definitely find a place in manufacturing environments where innovation is key.
- The perception of manufacturing jobs will begin to shift as more and more younger highly skilled employees enter the workforce. There is a misconception currently that manufacturing is a “dirty” or drudgery-filled environment when the reality is that modern manufacturing is anything but.
- Attracting new and younger candidates will stock the manufacturing pipeline for future supervisors and quality control managers.
- Experienced baby boomers are now starting to retire. Attracting new candidates into manufacturing now will help ensure that the industry doesn’t lose the years of experience and knowledge these retiring workers would take with them without new trainees to take their places.
The future in manufacturing is bright. The nonwovens industry is ramping up product lines and revenues well into the coming decade. We can all encourage talented young people to follow our path into the challenging, and rewarding, nonwovens manufacturing industry.
Blog image courtesy Simon Howden/freedigitalphotos.net