Region Responds to New Industrial Revolution

A recent article in the Washington Post shed new light on issues facing today’s manufacturers: often it’s not the competition from abroad that gives them heartburn, but an inability to attract tech-savvy workers to today’s “wired” shop floor is hurting their competitiveness.

Focusing on a Michigan community, the article said: “A metal-parts factory here has been searching since the fall for a machinist, an assembly team leader and a die-setter. Another plant is offering referral bonuses for a welder. And a company that makes molds for automakers has been trying for seven months to fill four spots on the second shift.”

Blame it on a generational shift. Yesterday’s manufacturing job relied on actual manual labor. Today’s factory worker is likely to spend days programming computerized machines, and possess specialized training.

It’s a gap we’ve seen widen in this region, too. But creative approaches seem to be helping to train precisely the workers our regional manufacturers clamor for.

The Christian Science Monitor recently covered the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing, and included Charleston in its overview of unique public/private job training partnerships. Locally, one such partnership has the state investing $45 million to train Boeing workers.

We’ve also long admired the Alcoa Mount Holly partnership with Trident Tech, which established a $100,000 scholarship in 2009, designed to nurture a team of “industrial athletes” uniquely trained to lead modern manufacturing into the future.

In the end, the new Industrial Revolution will be won by those with the mindset and skill-set to lead a high-tech world. Here’s to the Charleston region emerging victorious.


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