Developing the next generation of workers

There are several persistent myths about manufacturing that simply don't do justice to a sector that remains the backbone of the US economy.


[The 2012 Forecast issue of] Plant Engineering highlighted readers' understandable concerns about developing a future workforce to fill critical jobs in industry and manufacturing. This issue is at the center of Siemens own vision as we develop strategies to meet the increasingly complex needs of customers in 197 countries representing all major industries.

Our workforce of 360,000 is diverse and growing, especially in the U.S.. Indeed, contrary to headlines about a "jobless recovery," the challenge we face at our more than 100 plants across America is finding qualified talent to fill 1,800 current U.S. job openings.

There are several persistent myths about manufacturing that simply don't do justice to a sector that remains the backbone of the US economy.

Myth 1: Nothing is made in America anymore and U.S. manufacturing is dead.

Fact: The U.S. is still the world's largest manufacturing economy, producing $1.6 trillion of goods each year, or 21% of global production. Manufacturing is a great place to look for a job right now. Deloitte recently estimated that there are as many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs that are unfilled in the U.S. due to talent shortage. (Source: "U.S. manufacturing sees shortage of skilled factory workers." Washington Post, Feb. 19, 2012.)

Myth 2: US manufacturing jobs are unskilled, low-paid jobs.

Fact: Over the next decade, the most needed jobs in industry will require at least some post-secondary education, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. These jobs include managers, who earn an average annual wage of $107,970 and industrial engineers, who earn $75,740. (Source: "How to train U.S. workers back into manufacturing jobs," Fortune, June 29, 2011.)

Myth 3: Automation is a job killer.

Fact: Automation increases productivity, competitiveness, and jobs. Research going back to the late 1920s shows that productivity growth and jobs growth usually happen at the same time. Productivity levels are at record highs now but there’s more room for improvement especially as we think about all of the pressures that industry faces. (Source: “Productivity and Growth: The Enduring Connection,” McKinsey Quarterly, Feb. 2011.)

Manufacturing is vital, vibrant and growing in the U.S.. Our biggest challenge is fueling interest and competencies to fill critical manufacturing jobs. That's why Siemens is focused on competitive workforce development programs for engineering grads, on-the-job training programs like the one experienced by Jackie Bray, whom President Obama highlighted in his State of the Union speech, and recruiting campaigns to take advantage of the rich skills offered by America's ex-military.

At the K-12 level, Siemens is also a national sponsor of programs like FIRST, which introduces students to technology through robotics championships held all over the world. Siemens engineers mentor teams at the elementary, middle and high school level to introduce them to engineering and build an early talent pipeline. We're not alone. Smart companies, including our competitors, have discovered the power of partnering with FIRST to drive brand recognition among future job seekers, strengthen ties to the community and even leverage FIRST mentoring as a management training program for existing employees.

For anyone in industry, supporting STEM programs like FIRST at the community level is the best way to grow the next generation of talent to fill our critical engineering jobs of the coming decades.

Raj Batra, President, Industry Automation Division, Siemens Industry Inc.

Batra to address automation and manufacturing summit at September IANA event

Raj Batra of Siemens Industry Inc. will be among the presenters at the 2012 Industrial Automation North America (IANA) Global Automation and Manufacturing Summit during the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2012 Conference Sept. 10-15, 2012 in Chicago. The Summit is presented by Hannover Messe, which is producing the IANA Show, and CFE Media, which includes Plant Engineering and Control Engineering magazines.

Below is the schedule for the two-day Summit:

    Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012
    8:00 a.m.: Keynote address
    9:30 a.m.: Treating Energy as a Raw Material
    11:00 a.m.: Integrating Operator Knowledge
    12:30 p.m.: Lunch and keynote presentation
    2:00 p.m.: Stay Ahead of the Technology Curve
    3:30 p.m.: Gaining, Training, Retaining the Next Generation of Workers

    Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012
    8:00 a.m.: Keynote address
    9:30 a.m.: Empowering the Mobile Worker
    11:00 a.m.: Securing Your Data

To register for the 2012 IANA event and the IMTS 2012, go to

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