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Manufacturing’s resurgence creates demand for skilled technicians

Needs include workers who can operate today’s high-tech equipment for plastics production, robotics, and automation.

In the last four years, the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. has increased by nearly 700,000. That’s more of a net gain than the rest of the G7 nations put together and the first time in a decade that manufacturing jobs in the U.S. have gone up, not down.

“Plastics and packaging manufacturers tell us there are two main factors. The myth of cheap manufacturing in China has been shattered. Also, consumers in stores are looking for the ‘Made in USA’ label,” says Dennis Gros, President of Gros Executive Recruiters, an executive recruiting firm that focuses on serving companies and individuals in plastics and packaging.

Manufacturing’s rebirth in the U.S. isn’t just a temporary illusion. It is being driven by inexpensive energy costs in the U.S. from the shale oil boom, and jobs coming back from overseas.

The Reshoring Initiative estimates that companies brought 100,000 manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. in the last four years. And a survey by Grant Thornton in late 2013 found that more than one-third of U.S. businesses planned to move goods and services production back to the U.S. in 2014 to improve costs, quality, and delivery times.

That resurgence in manufacturing has boosted employment in the plastics and rubber industries back to where it was in January 2009, with many of those jobs increasingly high-tech in nature.

Specifically there has been an increased demand for computer-controlled machine tool operators for plastics production, and skilled workers with advanced degrees and knowledge of robotics and automation.

“In recent years, the IT (information technology) jobs have attracted the bright, young minds,” says Gros. “Now that domestic manufacturing is in the midst of a renaissance, we will be in a better position to compete against IT for talent.”

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