Minding the Skills Gap
High-tech factories require a dependable supply of a well-trained, technically adept labor force. By one estimate, America will need over 120 million workers with advanced manufacturing skills by 2020 – and may be on pace to prepare less than half of what’s required with adequate qualifications.
Advanced manufacturing operations therefore, will require a future workforce with data analysis, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. In addition, low enrollment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields of study represent a barrier to benefit fully from this tide of economic opportunity.
Siemens is taking an active role in solving the training gap in a number of ways, by creating public, academic and corporate partnerships to capitalize on America’s leadership in software engineering while there is still time.
Readying the Workforce: Siemens Takes Action
Eric Spiegel, the CEO of Siemens USA, advocates for better workforce preparedness and training models in the U.S. through the Business Roundtable Education and Workforce Committee and the steering committee of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0.
Siemens supports innovative design and engineering programs such as PACE, EcoCAR2 and Greenpower which focus on building sustainable and energy efficient products. Siemens GO PLM (Global Opportunities in PLM) program makes in-kind grants of engineering and product lifecycle management (PLM) software:
- Helps over 12,000 academic institutions and 1.2 million students per year learn critical hands-on skills
- Supports advanced manufacturing functions such as product design, simulation, analysis, manufacturing and product data management
- Leverages broadly deployed Siemens technology and automation solutions found in nearly every manufacturing environment around the world
- Students trained on these systems are able to bring these skills to nearly any manufacturing facility.
Siemens recently made a $440 million PLM software grant to Youngstown State University which will help students at the America Makes manufacturing innovation hub in Youngstown, Ohio. This center is devoted to incorporating 3-D printing in mainstream American manufacturing – and will provide students with hands-on use of PLM software in fields such as robotics design, computer-aided engineering and additive manufacturing.
In Germany, apprenticeships provide an alternative track to gain technical skills for students who aren’t seeking advanced University degrees. This apprenticeship model is being trialed in the U.S. by Siemens in partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. 18 students learn advanced mechatronics in the class room and work part time at the Siemens Gas Turbine plan in Charlotte, in North Carolina. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, students go on to earn $55K per year and graduate debt-free.
Investing in American manufacturing is an investment in growth. Manufacturing boasts a leading economic multiplier effect of $1.35 of value-added, commands 20% wage premiums and is a source of innovation. Nearly 70% of private company R&D investment and 70% of issued patents originate in manufacturing in the U.S.
The factory of tomorrow will excel at connecting the dots between machines, work flows, people and materials while interconnecting the work of design, planning, production and distribution. Skilled workers who can bridge virtual planning to real production will be in high demand – and accelerate innovation through concepts such as lot size one and commercializing additive manufacturing.
Siemens has answers to grow advanced manufacturing in the U.S. through intelligent automation, PLM software and by giving the workforce a competitive edge with technical skills.