Currently, the American worker has been the primary beneficiary of unprecedented economic growth in a strong U.S. economy. According to June's job numbers, the unemployment rate is at 3.7%, and job growth continues in an upward trend. Today, there are more job openings than Americans looking for work.
As members of the electronics industry, we work in a quickly evolving technological field illustrated by continual change and advancement. We must have a workforce that is ready to meet these advancements. We are firmly committed to providing growth and opportunities for American workers as we plan for a future where we don’t know what the jobs will be. Filling roles that don’t even exist yet is a unique challenge, but it is part of the work we do on a daily basis.
One year ago, the Trump administration asked business leaders to sign the Pledge to America’s Workers to ensure more growth and opportunities for America’s workers. IPC signed this pledge, committing to creating one million workforce training opportunities over five years.
Now, we are celebrating the early success of the President’s pledge. Recently, acting SBA Administrator Chris Pilkerton traveled to the upper peninsula of Michigan to meet with Calumet Electronics, an IPC member, and one of only 200 remaining PCB manufacturers in North America. Committed to U.S. manufacturing, Calumet understands that its workers are its greatest asset. Calumet is growing its workforce, and its training programs to provide long-term career paths for workers and early-career engineers.
While we recognize these laudable achievements, there is plenty more to do for U.S. workers. In today’s advanced manufacturing facilities, workers have less interaction with manual tools and greater reliance on computer-managed machinery. More and more, low-skilled jobs will be replaced by automation as companies try to keep pace with overseas competitors on costs and efficiencies. It is critical that employers and organizations help upskill and train workers to work alongside machines.
To solve today's and tomorrow's workforce challenges, we need to accelerate the growth of industry-credentialing programs that are most closely aligned the workplace needs. Within electronics manufacturing, we have seen that industry credentials are as valuable—and in some cases, more valuable than high school or college diplomas—because industry-credentialing programs reflect the needs of employers. Workers who obtain credentials are more likely to secure work and be successful in their new positions.
To ensure credentialing programs match industry needs, IPC has implemented a jobs task analysis (JTA), which identifies the core competencies and skillsets needed to perform every role in the industry. Our skills audit reveals that too often, today’s manufacturing workers lack essential knowledge and skills, including a foundation in math, basic technology, and problem-solving. By knowing the traits needed for workers’ success, we can make changes to our credentialing program, which now serve over 100,000 individuals a year and receives input from leading electronics companies and IPC members, like L3 Technologies, General Electric, Raytheon, and TTM Technologies.
To read the full article, which appeared in the September 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.