Eric Wieffering has covered Minnesota's economy and business community for more than two decades. His column appears two to three times a week, including Sunday.

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Future of manufacturing jobs

Posted by: Eric Wieffering under Minnesota technology, The economy Updated: February 16, 2012 - 9:53 AM

As readers note, the headline  on today's column is misleading because the high-paying manufacturing jobs I write about require a post-secondary education, just not a bachelor's degree. Can't blame this on anyone else. I wrote the headline with a BA or BS in mind.

Dunwoody's program is two years long, and some of its graduates eventually end up getting a four-year degree, usually at their employer's expense. Most of the students in Dunwoody's machine tooling programs are 28 or 29. One that I spoke with, Nate Walkington, is 38. He graduates in June but already has a job at a research and devleopment lab at the University of Minnesota.

One thing that didn't make it into the column were some of the reasons fewer young people are even thinking of careers in manufacturing. Based on conversations I've had with business owners and educators over the last several months, they include:

  • Social pressure: Kids are under enormous pressure, from their parents, peers and teachers, to apply to and get into four-year colleges. Technical colleges and manufacturing jobs don't have the same status.
  • Exposure: Many high schools, under pressure to raise student performance on standardized tests, have dropped Shop as a subject area. Those that still have it likely haven't updated their equipment to keep pace with changes in manufacturing technology.

Other reasons? 

 

 

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