The United States is inadequately prepared to meet the staffing needs for the quantity and quality of entry-level robotics and automation technicians needed in our manufacturing facilities across the country. Recent studies by the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute, Boston Consulting Group and Deloitte report the impact and extent of the manufacturing skills gap, and at the present pace, the industry faces a job shortage of 2 million workers over the next decade1.
However, events like the ACTE CareerTech Vision Expo that took place in Nashville, Tennessee earlier in December have sparked a major increase in the level of interest from schools concerned with developing and planning Manufacturing 4.0 robotic certification and credentialing, as well as industrial robotics curriculum and programs. The new MTEC / ACTE trailer, featuring a Yaskawa STEM robotics technology display, also generated excitement and encouraged attendees to learn more about careers in robotics automation.
Embracing Automation and Advanced Manufacturing Trends
The level of enthusiasm for automation and advanced manufacturing expressed at the ACTE CareerTech Vision Expo must continue. At Yaskawa Motoman, our role is to help fill the job gap by providing robotics, educational tools and STEM curriculum capable of building a robust, highly-skilled workforce with the expertise to operate, design, integrate, manage and maintain a new generation of technological and organizational manufacturing processes as part of Manufacturing / Industry 4.0.
According to the report (Source: BLS; ONET skills data and BCG), 87K robotics and mechatronics jobs will be required for Industry 4.0 through 2025. The future of manufacturing is dependent on successfully intertwining innovative technologies with trained workers, factory equipment, machine software and technology systems. While utilizing advanced tools creates unique business opportunities, recruiting or training the talent needed to operate high-tech machines and robots is challenging. Robotics manufacturing education requires more than the technical training provided in today’s vocational schools and in the industrial workplace.
Certification, credentialing and STEM-based education organizations (K-16) need to deliver a blend of distinct social (soft) and business skills, combined with specific Manufacturing 4.0 automation and technical skills. Most importantly, adaptive skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and on-going learning must be addressed, because they are expected to be 20% more critical across top Industry 4.0 jobs than the traditional technical skills used in manufacturing today.
Advanced automation and manufacturing technologies will also create major demands for entirely new careers in data analytics, autonomous systems, technology design, advanced perception or vision, and advanced machine programming; including, artificial intelligence, operation control and predictive maintenance, which fall under a new job category called robot coordinator.
What Education Workforce Development (EWD) Partnerships Should Look Like Today
For manufacturing companies and educational institutions to experience transformative results that foster a future of success on both private and public levels, there must be an unwavering commitment to intertwine modern technologies and dedicated resources with learning opportunities. As a top priority for workforce development, manufacturers should collaborate closely with educators, trainers and industry experts to help build a relevant Industry 4.0 workforce training environment.
They should help develop innovative vocational and career-ready education certification programs that go beyond technical, job-centric training. These STEM centric models must engage, inspire and cultivate the ability to solve problems, create new learning opportunities, develop hands-on project-based / team-based automation environments, and teach a comprehensive understanding of next-generation automation technologies.
With companies and schools working together, new training courses and curriculum should be developed with an application focused around virtual reality and augmented reality models that bring firsthand experience closer to the students. Education Workforce Development (EWD) Partnerships should also focus on developing community outreach marketing, talent pipeline recruitment and robotic branding programs for local, regional and state based education and industry stakeholders with a consistent message to promote advanced manufacturing careers in robotics and automation.
Yaskawa Motoman – A Dedicated Partner
Whether it’s through robotic hardware integration, workforce-driven partnerships or blended STEM curriculum, Yaskawa Motoman experts are committed to offering effective solutions to strengthen the future of workforce development for robotics and manufacturing in America. We explore ways to create sustainable solutions that support education standards in innovative ways, and we strive to leverage our industrial partners that use and integrate Motoman® robots.
Educational institutions collaborate with us to implement applicable training curriculum, offer classroom / industrial software modeling tools and provide maintenance training (along with application-specific programs) that integrate real-life industrial experiences in a classroom environment. Likewise, Yaskawa Motoman experts play an active role in manufacturing and automation within our local economy and across the United States.
From collaborating with educational institutes to provide student programs to supporting regional plant tours and robotics events, we are dedicated to educating a dynamic mix of engineers and personnel that can continually improve efforts for all manufacturing industries.
Bob Graff is a Senior Sales Manager, Education at Yaskawa America Inc. - Motoman Robotics Division