During a time when manufacturing is changing in massive ways, there is a predicted labor shortage with estimates as high as two million additional skilled workers needed by the year 2020.
Author Sarah Boisvert is co-founder of the commercial division of Potomac Photonics Inc. of Baltimore, Md., where she worked to commercialize a proprietary radio frequency (RF)-discharge excimer laser. She is no stranger to the need of manufacturers to find skilled workers. Her new book, published by Photonics Media Press, The New Collar Workforce, is turning the traditional workforce training model on its head. Armed with 200 manufacturing industry executives’ interviews, Boisvert gets to the heart of the skills gap, and defines a path to engaging, well-paying jobs in the cool digital factory.
The “new collar” workers that manufacturers seek have the digital skills needed to “run automation and software, design in CAD, program sensors, maintain robots, repair 3D printers, and collect and analyze data,” according to the author. Educational systems must evolve to supply today’s changing digital manufacturers with new collar workers, and this book leads the reader to innovative organizations that are recreating training programs for a new age in manufacturing, also known as Industry 4.0.
Boisvert is also the founder of the Fab Lab Hub in Santa Fe, New Mexico and as part of her book research and work; she created a Digital Badge program for New Collar jobs. Digital Badges, in collaboration with IBM and Mozilla, is a secure platform to recognize achievement. The program certifications include:
- Design for 3D Printing
- Introduction to CAD Design
- Fundamentals of SLA 3D Printing
- Troubleshooting FDM 3D Printers
- Laser Safety in Manufacturing
Master Badges such as 3D Printing Operator or Laser Service Technician are part of training process that culminates in a stack of Digital Badges that certify a higher level of skill.
The author’s call to action is clear: “We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity to look to the future and fundamentally change manufacturing jobs. We can show people the value in new collar jobs and how to create nontraditional pathways to engaging, fulfilling, living wage careers in the digital factory. If industry is to invigorate and revitalize manufacturing, it must start with the new collar workers who essentially make digital fabrication for Industry 4.0 possible.”
AM News frequently researches and publishes about workforce training programs (TTU runs the NSF-funded AM-WATCH program that hosted an Additive Manufacturing Studio). If you know of one or conducting one at your institution, we would like to hear from you. Contact information below.