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Workforce Development


SME is inspiring, preparing and supporting current and future generations as they discover what’s now and what’s next. More

WFD Fact Sheet

Keeping Up with the Evolution

Nearly 12 million Americans — about 9 percent of the workforce — are employed in manufacturing.  More

SME is passionate about providing knowledge to the manufacturing workforce — present and future. Through its strategic areas of events, media, membership, training & development, and the SME Education Foundation, SME is uniquely dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing by addressing both knowledge and skill needs for the industry.

Why is workforce development important?
There are a myriad of factors that influence children as they grow into adulthood, but education is universally recognized to be a major factor that can open doors to future success in the workforce. With nearly 75 million baby boomers set for retirement, now, more than ever, technically skilled workers are in high demand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that, in the 21st century, manufacturing employment as a share of the total workforce is going to decline by 10.6 percent (or 1.5 million jobs), mainly in repetitive manufacturing jobs. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, employment in advanced manufacturing, however, has risen by 37 percent. For example, employment in pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing is expected to grow by 23.8 percent and add 69,000 new jobs by 2016. The aerospace and defense industry has a backlog of production that extends to 2030, requiring continuous upkeep of their workforce. Transportation will continue to grow and change, requiring a workforce that is flexible, knowledgeable and focused on their deliverables. According to a 2011 Skills Gap Report, more than 83 percent of U.S. manufacturers report an overall shortage of qualified employees. This can be changed by educating young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), providing them with information about the manufacturing world, and allowing them to experience beneficial opportunities. In addition, the current workforce needs to be able to transition into high-skill, high-wage, high-demand positions.


Manufacturing Growth Limited (6-23-15)Manufacturing growth limited by lack of workers
Many of the region’s manufacturers and workforce training programs recently joined forces to get out
the message that they have jobs to fill — for applicants with the right skills. Full Article



Millennial WP (6-18-15)Embracing Millennials: Tooling U-SME Addresses Next Generation of Manufacturing Workforce, Offers Insights on Training and Retaining
White paper demonstrates value of millennials in closing the skills gap. Full Article 



Mfg Job Training Grants (6-18-15)Manufacturing Key to $138 Million in Job Training Grants
The grants, ranging from $500,000 to $7 million, will be parceled out among 27 states and the Cherokee tribal nation. Full Article  



BIG M Students (6-5-15)Students Compete In STEM Events Next To Professionals at BIG M Conference
SME's THE BIG M Conference at Cobo Center in Detroit offered professionals the opportunity to see the latest in manufacturing technology, and students the opportunity to compete in STEM-related events. VIEW VIDEO 


Career Counseling White PaperSME and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Release Career Counseling White Paper
"Transforming Career Counseling: Bridging School to Career in the Workforce of the Future" provides recommendations that address the challenge of helping students (1) become aware of the broad range of available careers that meet the evolving needs of the workplace and (2) learn how to connect their interests and skills to an educational pathway that leads to rewarding opportunities in their career choice. It also outlines robust and economically viable actions to enrich the career guidance counseling system in American middle and high schools. Full Article

Bipartisan Coalition (3-18-15)Bipartisan coalition introduces bill to designate ‘Manufacturing Universities’
Legislation would bolster schools’ focus on advanced manufacturing. Full Article



STEM Scholarship (3-10-15)Seeking New Edisons: STEM Scholarship Will Boost Innovation in Ohio
America’s high school graduation rate is at its highest point in four decades — three out of four students now get a diploma. But in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the numbers remain grim: just 60 percent of students graduate. Full Article  


Ford Workers (2-24-15)Ford workers trained up for F-150
The OEM says that since May 2013 over 8,000 skilled trades and production workers at Dearborn Truck Plant, Michigan, and Kansas City Assembly Plant, Missouri, have undergone an “intensive” training program to support manufacture of the new pick-up truck. Full Article


Foundation BOD Members (2-23-15)SME Education Foundation Welcomes Two New Members to its Board of Directors 
The new members bring a vast amount of knowledge and a devoted passion for educating younger generations about manufacturing and the many careers opportunities that exist within the industry. Full Article  

Global MarathonGlobal Marathon For, By and About Women in Engineering & Technology, March 9-11, 2015
The Global Marathon For, By and About Women in Engineering & Technology kicks off on Monday, March 9 at 11:00 a.m. (ET), with an opening keynote by Megan Smith, former Google executive and currently chief technology officer of the U.S. Full Article 


Making Value for AmericaMAKING VALUE FOR AMERICA: Embracing the Future of Manufacturing, Technology, and Work
On March 2, 2015, a distinguished group of thought leaders in industry and academia will present a new vision for manufacturing and the future of work in America. The group, all members of a study committee at the National Academy of Engineering, will discuss a groundbreaking report that details the challenges and opportunities that are reshaping manufacturing, innovation and jobs in the U.S. Full Article  

Louisville Workforce (1-28-15)New work-force program is part of a larger manufacturing strategy in Louisville
The program comes from the Kentucky Federation for Advance Manufacturing Education, or KY FAME. Participating students will attend classes two days per week at their local community college — in Louisville, that's Jefferson Community and Technical College. At the same time, they will work an additional 24 hours per week for a sponsoring employer, who will subsidize the student's college expenses. Full Article

30 Under 30 Reinvent (1-5-15)30 Under 30 Reinventing Manufacturing In A Greener, Tech-Savvier World
The classic picture of the manufacturing industry is that of conveyor belt upon conveyor belt of identical, mass produced products on the inside and large chimneys belching smoke into the atmosphere on the outside. Full Article