Advanced manufacturing creates growth for people, the economy

Advanced manufacturing techniques are making their presence felt in the industry with better machines, materials and methods to produce existing and new products.

“These forces are pushing manufacturers from an economic perspective, leveling the playing fields across countries,” says Glenn Richardson, managing director of Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace & Aviation at JobsOhio. “The sector has been successful at growing jobs in advanced manufacturing — good paying jobs with good career potential. Continuing that momentum requires cross-sectional skill sets that marry both the mechanical and electrical aptitude as well as the information technology that connects it all together.”

Smart Business spoke with Richardson about the state of manufacturing and how the sector can create the opportunities of the future.

What are the factors in Ohio’s market that enable companies that embrace advanced manufacturing to be successful?

Ohio offers a lot. It is the seventh largest state with the third largest manufacturing workforce. It’s the country’s second largest producer of automobiles, and the top supplier state to Airbus and The Boeing Co.

Ohio is also well positioned to grow and attract businesses because of its business-friendly environment. It’s a low-tax state. When businesses look to relocate, chief among their considerations is the cost of operation. Businesses need a workforce that’s capable and a good value. They need knowledgeable workers who are capable of being developed.

Beyond a business-friendly climate and good workforce, manufacturers need excellent innovation infrastructure. Ohio’s education network and 80 college campuses offer curriculum in engineering and technology that is generating great talent at the undergraduate level. They’re also an engine for innovation, driving research through its graduate students who are on the leading edge of new technologies in advanced manufacturing, processes, and information and data analytics. After they graduate, they’re going to work for Ohio companies. That provides a continual replenishment of knowledge workers and that’s important for sustainability.

What is the state of Ohio’s current manufacturing workforce?

There is some concern in the manufacturing sector about filling the jobs that are necessary to grow businesses and the economy. The demographics of the state’s manufacturing workforce comprise a significant portion of baby boomers, many of whom are poised to retire. Those workers will need to be replaced if the sector is to expand. However, Ohio is a manufacturing state, so the sector gets a lot of attention, which has made the workforce issues something many entities are working hard to address.

Companies in this sector are finding success as they leave the old methods of recruiting behind and instead use more digital methods. It’s a smarter way to find candidates that also helps present manufacturing not as a job, but as a career.

Along with outreach to schools and better networking practices, manufacturers are addressing their workforce needs for today and into the future.

What can manufacturers do to increase their chances of success?

Manufacturers will do well to develop good talent acquisition networks to fill jobs and lead the successful transition from traditional to new methods and materials to create in-demand products.

Businesses in this sector should couple the constant development of their workforce with continuous improvement in production and how they design and ideate. They should plug into Ohio’s strong innovation infrastructure and educational system to support both their technology and workforce development initiatives.

Advanced materials, additive manufacturing and automation are three trends that will continue to shape the manufacturing sector. Industry 4.0 is not about replacing the human element in the industry, but instead about bringing higher-level capabilities to the machines that work alongside humans to make them more productive. It’s leaving the more cognitive functions to the humans and reserving the repetitive work for the machines.

Insights Economic Development is brought to you by JobsOhio