Despite a growing concern that the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) worker shortage could be severe1, the future of manufacturing shines a bit brighter thanks to annual events like National Robotics Week (RoboWeek). A series of grassroots events and activities during the month of April aimed at increasing public awareness of the importance of the U.S. robotics industry, RoboWeek offers hands-on experience to students, inspiring them to pursue STEM-related fields.
Over the next six years, occupations in STEM fields are expected to grow by 10.8%2, with nearly 87,000 robotics and mechatronics jobs up for grabs3. Moreover, as modern manufacturing processes, next-generation robotics and Industry 4.0 technologies continue to shift the primary skill sets needed to fulfill industrial tasks, STEM-centric events like National Robotics Week will continue to grow in importance.
While there are multiple strategic steps manufacturers can implement to grow a relevant workforce, a key piece of the puzzle is to maintain a high-level of enthusiasm among students for advanced manufacturing careers. Furthermore, to help facilitate the workforce development needed, manufacturers must be proactive—regularly collaborating with local schools to offer or sponsor educational events that provide a more comprehensive understanding of next-generation automation technologies.
One of the ways Yaskawa Motoman seeks to make a difference in the future of manufacturing is by offering quarterly student tours at its main headquarters in Miamisburg, Ohio. To help celebrate the tenth anniversary of the aforementioned National Robotics Week, Yaskawa Motoman will host nearly 300 students (grades 7th through 12th) from the Greater Dayton region, encouraging each child to embrace STEM education, while maintaining the soft skills needed to create the value-added products and goods of the future4.
Not only are events of this nature a catalyst for students, but also the current workforce is energized by seeing the excitement in the eyes of each student interested in pursuing a career in robotics or other STEM-related field. Since the inaugural National Robotics Week in 2010, more than 300 affiliated events (spanning all 50 states) have followed, increasing awareness of the tremendous social and cultural impact that robotics will have on the future.
1 [Fourth Annual STEM] Emerson Survey: 2 in 5 Americans Believe the STEM Worker Shortage is at Crises Levels, Emerson, 2018
2 2019 STEM Job Growth Index, The Advisory, 2019
3 The Impact of Automation and Robotics on the Workforce, ARM Institute, 2017
4 What is Manufacturing 5.0?, Manufacturing.Net, 2018
Bob Graff is a Senior Sales Manager, Education at Yaskawa America Inc. - Motoman Robotics Division