US Workforce Shrinks, A Manufacturer Steps Up

In line with the previous article, thermal-system manufacturer Watlow is working to bolster a shrinking manufacturing workforce in the US. As a matter of course, the company’s efforts have been recognized. The Missouri Association of Manufacturers (MAM) has awarded Watlow a Made in Missouri Leadership Award because of the company's support of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, training programs, and economic development initiatives. Watlow is involved in MAM's SkillSource Initiative, as well as a partnership with Ranken Technical College, who also received the award.


Peter Desloge, CEO and president of Watlow, claims “It is important for manufacturers to address the shortage of employees in the U.S. who have a background in STEM. The need for skilled workers is increasing, and Watlow, like other manufacturers, believes it is critical to invest in both STEM education and training programs to close the gap.”


MAM reports that "the manufacturing industry is in crisis" due to this workforce shortage. Through 2025, close to 3.5 million manufacturing jobs are likely to open, but two million will remain unfilled because there are not enough workers with the right skill sets, according to the 2015 Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Skills Gap Study.


Watlow has partnered with Ranken to recruit and train people on the technical skills needed in a modern manufacturing setting. The two organizations have participated in job fairs and co-op programs in the areas of maintenance, machinists and technicians. Watlow is considering shifting the manufacturing of one of its electric heater lines to Ranken in 2018. This would help Watlow further support its customers by identifying and training future technical team members from Ranken.


Interestingly, these days, discussions of manufacturing, more often than not, drift into the realms of automation and artificial intelligence. Both of these technologies, which are gaining a brisk pace and acceptance, are synonymous with taking over jobs humans used to perform, particularly in the manufacturing sector. The question is, are the abundance of jobs that need to be filled open for humans or intelligent machinations? For more details, contact Watlow.