Thursday, December 19, 2019

Manufacturing jobs are increasingly requiring some college education

This is related to yesterday's post about inequality. That dealt with how technology was allowing people at the top to make even more money. But here, it means that people at the bottom will have a harder time finding high paying jobs without training or education.

See American Factories Demand White-Collar Education for Blue-Collar Work: Within three years, U.S. manufacturing workers with college degrees will outnumber those without by Austen Hufford. Excerpts:
"College-educated workers are taking over the American factory floor.

New manufacturing jobs that require more advanced skills are driving up the education level of factory workers who in past generations could get by without higher education, an analysis of federal data by The Wall Street Journal found.

Within the next three years, American manufacturers are, for the first time, on track to employ more college graduates than workers with a high-school education or less, part of a shift toward automation that has increased factory output, opened the door to more women and reduced prospects for lower-skilled workers.

You used to do stuff by hand,” said Erik Hurst, an economics professor at the University of Chicago. “Now, we need workers who can manage the machines.”

U.S. manufacturers have added more than a million jobs since the recession, with the growth going to men and women with degrees, the Journal analysis found. Over the same time, manufacturers employed fewer people with at most a high-school diploma.

"Employment in manufacturing jobs that require the most complex problem-solving skills, such as industrial engineers, grew 10% between 2012 and 2018; jobs requiring the least declined 3%, the Journal analysis found."

Improvements in manufacturing have made American factories more productive than ever and, despite recent job growth, require a third fewer workers than the nearly 20 million employed in 1979, the industry’s labor peak.

Manufacturers added 56,000 jobs this year compared with 244,000 jobs through this time last year. Automation and competition from lower-wage countries have contributed to declining U.S. manufacturing jobs."

"The new, more advanced manufacturing jobs pay more but don’t help workers who stopped schooling early. More than 40% of manufacturing workers have a college degree, up from 22% in 1991.

“The workers that remain do much more cognitively demanding jobs,” said David Autor, an economics professor at MIT."

"Large manufacturers also are tilting their workforce toward higher skilled, educated employees. Around 70% of new hires this year at Honeywell International Inc. ’s aerospace business have at least an associate degree"

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