Society of Manufacturing Engineers releases Manufacturing Education Strategy

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) today released a national action plan: "Workforce Imperative: A Manufacturing Education Strategy" which calls for manufacturers, educators, professional organizations and government to coordinate and standardize efforts for preparing a skilled workforce for the high-tech manufacturing jobs of today and tomorrow.

The white paper, addresses the current crisis faced by manufacturing where 600,000 jobs are currently unfilled due to a shortage of skilled workers. By 2015, that number is projected to reach 3 million openings. The report calls on all stakeholders, including educators and industry, to work together to close this gap through:

  • Attracting more students into manufacturing
  • Articulating a standard core of manufacturing knowledge
  • Improving the consistency and quality of manufacturing education
  • Integrating manufacturing topics into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education
  • Strategically deploying resources to accomplish these goals

"It is imperative that manufacturing is working hand-in-hand with education to properly train and educate both our current and future workforce," said Mark Tomlinson, SME Executive Director & CEO. "Importantly, we must communicate to our young people the tremendous opportunities that exist in manufacturing and then provide them with the educational foundation necessary to succeed."

SME's white paper is the culmination of two years of research by SME's Task Force on the Role of SME in Higher Education and members of SME's Manufacturing Education & Research Community, who closely examined the state of manufacturing education. The research was conducted through a series of events held to discuss manufacturing education, which engaged hundreds of stakeholders from industry, government and education.

SME's ongoing contributions to solving the skilled worker shortage include a range of initiatives:

  • Investing $5.3 million in youth programs, helping more than 15,000 students explore career opportunities through STEM education
  • Grant-funding more than $4.7 million in scholarships to students pursuing manufacturing-related careers
  • Investing $17.3 million in grants to colleges and universities to develop industry-driven curricula

The SME Education Foundation also recently created the Partnership Response in Manufacturing Engineering (PRIME) project, a $5.2 million program which utilizes STEM curriculum to support workforce development. Additionally, SME's online educational training platform, ToolingU (TU), trains workers on-the-job at thousands of companies worldwide while educating students at numerous colleges and universities.

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