The rebirth of manufacturing and the ‘new-collar’ worker:
The past few years have drastically changed the way that manufacturers have had to operate as they have worked to navigate numerous disruptions to the industry. Material shortages, supply chain issues, staff shortages, and shipping delays are just a few of the different pieces of the manufacturing process that have been affected. This has caused the industry to stumble at the exact time that consumers were shifting towards purchasing goods as opposed to services due to being stuck at home during the pandemic.
According to a December 2021 manufacturing production article on CNBC, “Manufacturing, which accounts for 12% of the U.S. economy, is being supported by strong demand for goods even as spending starts to revert back to services.” The article goes on to state that “Production at U.S. factories increased to its highest level in nearly three years in November as output rose across the board, providing a powerful boost to the economy as the year ends.”
What this means is that even though supply chains are still somewhat disrupted, the demand for manufacturing is higher than it was even before the pandemic began. With the manufacturing sector poised for a steady increase in the coming years, it’s a great time to get into a manufacturing career.
These changes are occurring at a time when the manufacturing industry, along with many other sectors, is experiencing a shift in the type of worker they are looking for. Historically manufacturing jobs have been broken up into two different types, blue-collar and white-collar. White collar jobs were seen as more managerial and often performed from behind a desk, whereas blue-collar jobs were seen as being performed with the hands, or as manual labor. With the rise of technology in the manufacturing industry people are looking for what are known as new-collar employees.
New collar workers are those that possess both the skills and the knowledge to perform in a hybrid role that requires hands-on experience and knowledge along with highly technical or business skill sets that are required. According to the Think Tank blog “There’s little question that the new-collar workforce is fundamental to the future of manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. Today and in the future, everyone will need to be problem solvers and technologically skilled. With manufacturing on pace to experience 2 million unfilled jobs by 2025, the skills needed to close this gap are changing.”
Manufacturing offers a variety of career opportunities:
With American manufacturing on the rise and a growth of technology driven roles in many aspects of the industry, business and job boards are filled with a variety of different types of open positions. Below are some insights into different types of careers available in manufacturing today.
According to CareerBuilder one of the fastest growing jobs in manufacturing is that of a machine programmer. These are the folks that manage software designed to automate production processes. The growth in this area is fueled by the massive savings that can be achieved by leveraging new technologies and machines that help reduce the overall resources or time needed to create products.
Another great position, especially for those looking to get started in the industry, is a machine operator. Operators are the ones that run the machines and maintain them if they experience any type of problem. This is a critical position because the operators are responsible for making sure the machines do their jobs correctly.
Someone who is familiar with the operations and specs of several different types of tools may go into the role of machinist. A machinist is someone that can configure and operate many different tools, and also includes those individuals who can create, fix, or modify precision instruments and tools used in the manufacturing process. Their highly technical skill sets puts a greater value on this position than, say, a machine operator.
A millwright is someone whose job is to install and maintain the equipment and machinery within the production warehouse. They must have a good amount of technical and problem-solving skills in order to trouble-shoot machines and processes, usually while under pressure from a looming deadline. Millwrights may also be involved in the design of a production facility, helping to make decisions about where certain machines are located according to blueprints and best practices.
There are also plenty of positions in manufacturing that are off the floor. Sales engineers, business development managers, and sales managers are focused on finding new clients and partners to sell to. At the same time, the head of logistics might be focused on developing and maintaining a solid supply chain delivery for facilities or factories.
Product managers and design engineers work to take ideas and design and deliver products that implement those ideas at the most economical cost. They are responsible for the overall success of the product itself, particularly as it relates to the physical and functional requirements of the product.
Marketing can be a huge function of a manufacturing business as well. Creating websites, information, and marketing campaigns designed to reach specific subsets of customers is an essential part of success. Facilities may have a compliance officer, as well as people designated as trainers to ensure everyone in the company is up to speed on the latest safety.
At the end of the day, manufacturing employs people in all different types of careers. The manufacturing facility itself provides the opportunity for machine and operations related jobs that are quickly becoming more modern with the influx of computer driven machines and processes. At the same time traditional business roles like product management, marketing professionals, and sales and business development managers all perform crucial roles in the overall success of the company.
All this means that no matter your background, there’s a role for you to fill in manufacturing. If you’re interested in checking out the openings we have here at Integrated Manufacturing Solutions, jump on over to our careers site or feel free to contact us to find out more information.