Today’s manufacturing looks far different than it did merely a decade ago. New, innovative technology, pioneering machinery and advanced robotics have translated to faster and higher quality production of the items we use every day. Individuals interested in a fast-paced and dynamic career that offers limitless development opportunities may be well-suited for a career in advanced manufacturing. Additionally, with skilled workers so desperately needed to meet growing consumer demands, many manufacturing jobs offer reliable hours, competitive wages, above-average benefits and paid time off.
According to the 2018 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute skills gap and future of work study, 89 percent of executives see a talent shortage in the current American manufacturing industry (up 5 percent from its 2015 study). This skills gap could leave 2.4 million jobs unfilled come 2028. Despite these statistics, manufacturing is forecast to increase faster than the general economy due to more exports and increased capital growth, according to The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) Foundation. These figures highlight the need for increased high-level manufacturing training that can meet the needs of community manufacturers and businesses alike.
Shifts in the local workforce brought on by COVID-19 have led many manufacturing companies in the Lincoln Trail region to market themselves to potential career changers, which means numerous employers are ready to hire dedicated individuals interested in advanced manufacturing careers. Companies currently looking to fill jobs in the area include Coca-Cola Enterprises, Barton 1792 Distillery, Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown, Toyotomi America, Hendrickson International, Johann America Inc. and Takigawa Corporation. Of the top 10 most requested skills by the companies mentioned above, seven are special technical skills: repair, packaging, welding machinery, predictive/preventative maintenance, hand tools, plumbing and forklift operation. The vast majority of these jobs simply require an associate’s degree, high school diploma or vocational training.
As many in the region are familiar, the Kentucky Career Center-Lincoln Trail (KCC-LT) is a one-stop-shop in the community for career training and job placement. Partnering with Elizabethtown Community & Technical College (ECTC), KCC-LT works with individuals considering an advanced manufacturing career by evaluating interests and skill levels to help find the most suitable ECTC manufacturing program for them. Through ECTC, a future in advanced manufacturing can be made possible in as little as four months. With the Work Ready Scholarship, individuals can earn a certificate, diploma or associate degree tuition-free.
ECTC offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Computerized Manufacturing and Machining while partnering with several four-year universities for transfers seeking a bachelor's degree. ECTC also offers machinist and CNC machinist diplomas, as well as three levels of machine tool operator certificates. Through a combination of classroom instruction, demonstration and hands-on experience, ECTC students develop the skills needed to position workpieces, operate various machines and finish products.
While KCC-LT’s physical locations are currently closed, various career services are available virtually for job seekers interested in the manufacturing field. Individuals interested in making a lasting impact through a career in advanced manufacturing can visit LTcareercenter.org or elizabethtown.kctcs.edu.
Daniel Carney is the Executive Director of the Springfield-Washington County Economic Development Authority and a member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.