The State of Manufacturing and High-Tech Manufacturing Jobs

Do you ever get completely frustrated by the news and the pessimistic outlook on our economy – specifically the gloomy news surrounding manufacturing in the U.S.? I know I do! Mostly because business is pretty dog-gone good for us – a distributor that sells electrical products to manufacturers as well as others. So out of complete frustration from hearing bad news, I’ve collected a few links and comments expressing more optimism in the future of manufacturers and those that are employed in the manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing Expands At Fastest Pace Since June is a recent article from the Industrial Distribution website that suggests the rate of economic growth in the coming quarters might slow a bit but provides strong evidence that we’re off to a good start in 2012. This article from Textile World also shows that some of manufacturing’s hardest hit sectors of the last decade or so are holding there own and projecting modest growth into next year (Textiles 2012: The Prognosis Is Good).

One of the limiting factors in manufacturers’ ability to grow still appears to be limited access to skilled workers. My post on why there aren’t more young controls engineers touched on some reasons why there is a skilled labor shortage. The bottom line though is those that find work in high-tech manufacturing jobs can be compensated quite well. These posts and links from the US Commerce Department and MFG.com express similar ideas about the struggle to find enough workers and the opportunities for those pursuing manufacturing careers.

 MFG.comMFG.com – @MFGcom
#Manufacturers lament skilled-labor shortage: http://t.co/AFGE2BHP #manufacturing #jobs #STEM

U.S. Commerce Dept.U.S. Commerce Dept. – @CommerceGov
The State of our Union’s 21st Century Workforce – http://t.co/jd2i34s1 #STEM jobs pay more and have more projected opportunities

Ironically enough there are still numerous nay-sayers that don’t understand the role manufacturing plays. This article from the Fiscal Times, Why America Shouldn’t Focus on Manufacturing contends that there is no hope for US manufacturing and we should be focused on other avenues to prosperity(via @AJSweatt). I disagree.

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About Doug Brock

Doug Brock has a broad range of factory automation and wholesale distribution experience and is an expert on the application of the Baldrige Criteria for continuous improvement efforts.
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5 Responses to The State of Manufacturing and High-Tech Manufacturing Jobs

  1. Aly says:

    Hi Doug – I work for a spring manufacturer here in Houston, TX and was just reading the article you mentioned in the Fiscal Times the other day. There are many that say that manufacturing jobs that went overseas are lost forever – and sure, most of them probably are. But manufacturing still has the power to create new job opportunities here and I think especially now, any job creation would be welcome.

    Anyhow, thanks for posting some positive news, its always nice to hear! – Aly

  2. I work for a 50 person industrial automation company here in the Detroit suburbs. We are unusually busy. Our the controls department is over whelmed because of the increasing complexity of the hardware and sci-fi demands from the customers. Also because 20%+ travel seems to be the norm now-a-days since our customers electricians/maintenance workers can no longer service the sophisticated equipment that coming into their facilities.
    Bottomline we could use 2 GOOD controls guys with 10+ years of “in the trenches” experience. Here in the Detroit area there are none to be found. Unfortunately, as the senior controls person with the company, I don’t have the time and not sure I’m cut out to teach (else I would have been a professor or taught night school).
    Talking to many others in online forums across the country we collectively agree there seems to be a shortage of young guys coming into this field. That can’t be a good thing. At 50, with the increasing workload over the last 5-10 years I am near burn out myself and looking to find a slower paced career before a stress related illness forces me to. Then there will be one less controls guy with 30+ years experience.

    • Doug Brock says:

      I think that is where we are collectively screwing up James, as a country and as companies. We aren’t figuring out how to bring new people into the controls field. There was an article in the Washinton Post last week that said there were about 300,000 open skilled jobs related to manufacturing. Those are good paying jobs too. But manufacturing and high-tech related industries have a reputation for working their guys like you to death so it runs off young people. And, our educational assistance programs don’t provide incentives for people that go into fields that are more technical and maybe difficult to learn. Therefore we end up with more business degrees than we can use and not enough technical degrees that we need.

      Have a beer and relax. We can’t stand to lose any good controls guys to stress and burn out!

  3. Emmett Crier says:

    Manufacturing takes turns under all types of economic systems. In a free market economy, manufacturing is usually directed toward the mass production of products for sale to consumers at a profit. In a collectivist economy, manufacturing is more frequently directed by the state to supply a centrally planned economy. In mixed market economies, manufacturing occurs under some degree of government regulation.*^”-

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