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Skills Development, Not Education, Is Key To Workforce Transformation

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As a new decade dawns, the U.S. workforce will face tremendous challenges, but also unprecedented opportunities, especially in manufacturing.

We know that the face of the workforce is changing. As the Wall Street Journal reported in December, American manufacturers are on pace to employ more college graduates than workers with a high school education or those without high school degrees in the next three years. While it is essential for manufacturers to hire developers, coders, analysts, and employees with specialized backgrounds, employees across our manufacturing operations are proving that it doesn’t take an advanced education to have a fulfilling, well-paying career. At Koch, we have close to 2,000 openings in manufacturing roles throughout our enterprise. These openings won’t all be filled by employees with four-year degrees.

Much of the U.S. workforce is facing a future in which their current roles will almost certainly give way to automation, artificial intelligence and other innovations. A recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute highlights the importance of upskilling current employees and supporting programs that prepare the emerging workforce. Without continuing education initiatives and skills training across demographic groups, education levels, and geography, the report found that automation and other technological changes could leave millions of workers behind. That is why manufacturers must encourage alternatives to traditional educational structures while empowering employees with the tools to improve and transform.

By 2028, there could be as many as 2 million unfilled manufacturing jobs across the United States. Filling that gap will require not just a shift in how businesses think about these roles but also how employees can grow with them.:snip:

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