Pooling Together to Address Manufacturing’s Workforce Woes

Timothy LeyhWritten by: Timothy Leyh, Executive Director of The University at Buffalo Center for Industrial Effectiveness (UB TCIE)

It’s no secret that manufacturing companies are fishing in a small pond when looking to fill new positions and slots vacated by retirees.

We all know the reasons. Job seekers lack in-demand, high-tech skills. Misperceptions have steered entire generations to other careers and fields.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimates there are 600,000 unfilled American manufacturing jobs. That number will only grow as we further enter manufacturing’s newest era, “Industry 4.0,” where products are created more quickly with a web of innovative, yet increasingly complex, digital technologies.

The Society of Automotive Engineers predicts more than 98 percent of products will be developed digitally by 2020. To make that happen, we need serious discussions about workforce development and how to maximize our collective resources, especially when Buffalo is showing glimmers of a manufacturing resurgence.

The University at Buffalo Center for Industrial Effectiveness (UB TCIE) is committed to helping change this tide. As a center that connects businesses to UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences resources, we are boosting multilateral efforts to solve the talent shortage in Western New York and beyond:

  • We brought Manufacturing Skill Standards Council curriculum and assessments to the region in 2015, providing opportunity to earn two nationally transferable credentials through Certified Production Technician and Certified Logistics Technician trainings.
  • This year we developed the nation’s first comprehensive 101-level curriculum about Industry 4.0 with UB affiliates and industry partners. The Digital Manufacturing and Design Technology specialization is a series of 10 massive open online courses (MOOCs) on Coursera, the world’s largest online educational platform. As of mid-September 2017, there were just over 8,000 total enrollments.

We are eager to assist the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and continue our work with businesses, economic development stakeholders, and other educational institutions in devising solutions for these workforce challenges and keeping manufacturing’s momentum aloft.

The Center for Industrial Effectiveness