Manufacturing is big business. The companies that are mastering it have discovered that shifting away from humans and toward robotics is the way to increase productivity without sacrificing quality. The question then becomes, what place do humans have in a largely automated industry? More than ever, humans are operating machines behind the scenes, checking up on the robots and programming them to do their task. This is what the manufacturing job future looks like. It is highly technical and focused primarily on computers and technology.
A recent story in the Upstart Business Journal indicated that Chinese manufacturer Foxconn will begin firing workers and bringing in robots. But rather than making China more competitive, the article suggested that manufacturing will only become more localized than ever before. The U.S. stands to benefit as well Some examples of this localization include new jobs cropping up in unexpected places, such as Indiana and Kentucky.
China sees the value in machines
Manufacturing growth is slowing in China, and instead of trying to hire more workers, companies there are pushing for more robotics.
"Foxconn had announced earlier they would be bringing in a million robots," Entrepreneurship expert Vivek Wadhwa told Upstart. "They didn't do it as aggressively as they said they would, but nevertheless, they are now automating, and making their processes more productive, so you need less labor."
This is a belated attempt to compete with the growth of manufacturing across the entire world, including the U.S. Because of cheap oil prices, it's becoming less expensive to build in America, and many industries are taking advantage of this.
The U.S. manufacturing resurgence
One county in Indiana has benefited greatly from the U.S. manufacturing boom. Elkhart is the biggest manufacturer in the state, and ranks 21st among the U.S. counties, according to The Elkhart Truth. Those who work in the manufacturing industry are likely earning more money than they would in other sectors, as manufacturing tends to pay more per hour. Some people have even found that earning a technical certification can lead to better pay than earning a college diploma.
Kentucky has also seen an uptick in the number of manufacturing jobs available. As such, they have begun offering cooperative learning experiences, so people can train for jobs and begin to advance their careers.
"With the co-op, you're able to come out with little to no debt, and that is a big factor that Kentucky FAME can promote with this program," said college student Marly Jenkins to WLKY, a local news station.
As more people take manufacturing jobs, a greater number are discovering that they can earn good money doing work that requires less cash spent on training.