By: Catherine Mcconnell, Policy Advisor Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, US Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education is excited to join manufacturers, workers, educators, students, and families across our nation in celebrating National Manufacturing Day. Manufacturing is essential to our country’s vitality: it sparks creativity, fuels global competitiveness, brings dreams and ideas to life, and helps spread and scale innovation. Advanced manufacturing—which leverages leading-edge technology in clean and modern environments, —is a rapidly growing and in-demand industry across the country. With tremendous opportunities to create our future and the significant impact manufacturing has on our economy, we need more young people and adults to envision their future in manufacturing. Over the last two years, the U.S. economy has added 830,000 manufacturing jobs, with estimates that we will have more than two million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2030.
This growth has been accelerated by the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic Investing in America legislation to grow key industry sectors. Investing in America is grounded in bipartisan legislation that is making our economy stronger while expanding economic opportunity to millions of American households, unleashing a manufacturing boom that is Made in America, and creating manufacturing jobs for Americans that have specialized skills, but not necessarily a four-year degree. These manufacturing jobs are good jobs: they pay thriving wages, provide stability, offer benefits and opportunities for worker voice, and are launchpads for lifelong careers with economic and social mobility. In other words, they help build and strengthen lives, families, and communities.
Last year President Biden signed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which is designed to strengthen American manufacturing, supply chains, and national security. Spurred by CHIPS, companies have announced nearly $50 billion in private investments in American semiconductor manufacturing in private investment across the country. The bill catalyzes regional economic growth and development, creating regional partnerships to develop technology, innovation, and manufacturing sectors. Workforce development plays a critical role in this work, and education is the springboard to workforce and economic development.
To advance this imperative, the U.S. Department of Education is committed to helping grow the talent needed to drive our future in manufacturing. We are supporting Columbus, Ohio—one of five Investing in America Workforce Hubs—to build a vibrant, skilled workforce in semiconductor manufacturing to meet this region’s future needs, including the expansion of Intel in Central Ohio. To respond to workforce needs, Columbus State Community College is developing a new certificate in semiconductor technicians and partnering with local education agencies and the broader employer community to ensure that people across the region have equitable access to and engagement in rewarding manufacturing careers. At least 50 community colleges have already similarly announced new or expanded semiconductor workforce programs.
With the CHIPS and Science Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, we have once-in-a-generation federal investment and unparalleled opportunity to reimagine education to address two key issues:
1. Every young person deserves high-quality career and college pathways to prepare them for a brighter future.
2. Youth and adults need access to good jobs, especially those that exist in manufacturing and other key industry sectors.
The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to support states and the education system build pathways that support all learners gain the skills they need to enter these jobs. We must strengthen our career and college pathways in manufacturing industries, and community & technical colleges need to be at the center of that work. They can build partnerships starting in K-12 through Career Technical and Education programs to help students accelerate their learning and transition into higher levels of education or directly into employment. Community & technical colleges drive workforce development, with a proven history of partnering with industry to build programs that align in-demand skills employers need and connect to four-year degree paths.
Advanced manufacturing is our future, and together we can build career pathways to address this workforce need. In doing so, we can increase the visibility of industries like manufacturing so that all learners see themselves in the field. Many employers, either on their own or through coalitions, are already doing great work to build awareness of careers in manufacturing. They are engaging with K-12 and community & technical colleges, offering work-based learning opportunities like internships and engaging in career exploration activities like career fairs starting in middle school.
Let’s join forces and amplify our support for advanced manufacturing career pathways. By championing initiatives that enhance training programs, cultivate industry partnerships, and bolster skill development, we can pave the way for a stronger and more skilled workforce. Visit Unlocking-Career Success for resources to reimagine school to prepare all students to thrive in future, in-demand careers like those in advanced manufacturing.