ARM Institute Issues Future of Work Study Press Release

Artificial Intelligence, Manufacturing, Manufacturing Jobs, Robotics, Workforce

ARM Institute Issues Future of Work Study Detailing Best Practices and Collective Efforts Needed to Build a Sustainable and Resilient U.S. Manufacturing Workforce

The ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute today publicly released its Future of Work study. The study, previously issued to ARM Institute Members, details how advanced technologies, chiefly robotics, automation, and AI, are changing the nature of manufacturing careers and the actions needed to prepare the U.S. workforce for these changes.

Manufacturing and the development of technology to improve manufacturing have been a source of American prosperity and national security for over a century. The introduction of disruptive technologies, while addressing critical areas of need in manufacturing, are also changing the very nature of work for U.S. manufacturers. New skills and different types of training are needed to prepare workers.  

Leveraging existing research, interviews, and case studies from across the ARM Institute’s network, this study provides key insights on workforce issues and programs that are helping prepare workers for the changes that are already here and those that are on the horizon. This new study provides lessons learned, best practices, and actionable steps for educators, employers, and labor unions to take in order to build a future-ready manufacturing workforce.

Select findings from our report include:  

  • Current and near future industry trends emphasize keeping humans in the loop; both people and machines will be critical to the future of manufacturing and robots are not expected to replace all jobs. 
  • In response to AI, there is a growing need for almost all workers in operations to understand the importance of data and how algorithms use data for outputs. 
  • The most difficult skills to find today are programming, Computer-Aided Design and Modeling (CAD/CAM), Virtual Reality (VR), and robotics along with traditional skills like a machinist, welding, and CNC. 
  • Manufacturers and training centers are developing a pipeline of future workers, and some are beginning to fund programs that reach middle school students. 
  • There is a growing presence of “Learn & Earn” training programs that pay wages to participants as they learn new skills. Workers who have a mix of education and training beyond high school, but no bachelor’s degree, are expected to gain nearly 300,000 good jobs. 
  • Some manufacturers are developing their own company-sponsored training programs to fill their pipelines. 
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) programs are becoming increasingly common and funded by both private and government sources. 
  • Unions’ top challenges in this changing environment are upskilling the current workforce, understanding what technologies are on the horizon, worker safety, and job protection.