Although we’re in the midst of a fairly quiet hurricane season, a confluence of factors and conditions could certainly change that in a big way. In fact, that could be the case with Hurricane Joaquin, as it percolates in the Atlantic. And in a sense, the same could be said about the shifts currently occurring in the world of manufacturing.
China, for example, a manufacturing leader thanks in part to low cost labor, was the outsourcing destination of choice for decades. The winds then began to shift due to factors such as:
- rising wages
- skills gap
- labor shortage
As a result, it’s no longer significantly advantageous to outsource manufacturing to China. Now, the country is jockeying to regain a dominant position with programs such as Made in China 2025 and heavy investments in technology. Meanwhile, a number of countries including the U.S. and Germany have been pushing forward with strategies of their own.
The industrial winds have certainly been shifting for some time. Those committing to educate their workforces with the proper skills and invest in technology such as collaborative robots, have the potential not only to weather the manufacturing storm, but to be in a stronger position beyond it going forward.
Academic institutions are increasingly forming partnerships with industry and getting involved in their communities to close the skills gap and set them up for success. Take these schools, for example:
- NC State University: the college’s manufacturing and automation program is working with robots on automation solutions for local industry
- Montcalm Community College: MCC is retraining the local workforce with skills in advanced manufacturing
- Virginia Beach City Public Schools: This school system focuses on getting kids excited about science and technology
- Hennepin Technical College: HTC provides hands-on training to students with state of the art technology, while also introducing kids to robotics and opportunities in manufacturing through the local Cookie Cart program in Minneapolis, MN
It’s evident that success comes not only from predicting a forecast, but also from leveraging resources to better equip ourselves for future conditions.
So, on Manufacturing Day, we tip our hat to the industry and all those involved in developing a stronger and more advanced manufacturing workforce.
About the Author
I'm Jeff Green, senior content and social media strategist at Rethink Robotics. When I'm not socializing Sawyer and Baxter, our smart, collaborative robots, I'm usually caught up in the home tornado, also known as my three kids. Love them, my wife, old-school Chinese food, movies, and of course game-changing technology.