It’s no secret that North American manufacturing is back in a big way. It’s growing and advancing at lightning speed, and it’s causing a ripple effect that is extremely good news for the economy.
After all, consider these statistics from NAM:
• Manufacturers contributed $2.09 trillion to the U.S. economy last year
• Manufacturing supports over 17.6 million jobs in the U.S. (and directly employs more than one in every ten working Canadians)
• For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.37 is added back to the economy
As these numbers indicate, the North American people and economy directly benefit from a booming manufacturing sector. Additionally, as technology and innovation grow within the industry, the U.S. and Canada become more competitive and more independent.
Now consider the fact that the industry is in the midst of a skilled labor shortage. Opportunities and innovation are growing every day, and there aren’t enough people with the experience and skill to take part in them. If U.S. and Canadian manufacturers don’t have enough engineers and technology-savvy workers, what will happen to this advancement?
The answer to the problem, of course, is to promote STEM education—providing students and those entering the job market with science, technology, engineering, and math training.
According to the STEM Education Coalition, “STEM occupations will grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations,” and “the top 10 bachelor degree majors with the highest median earnings are all in STEM fields.” The fact is, STEM careers are as good for individuals as they are for the economy.
A report by the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters states that in order to combat the fact that nearly 50% of the country’s manufacturers are experiencing labor shortages, “everyone must work more aggressively if Canada is to prosper, innovate, and take advantage of the economic opportunities over the next decade.”
Thankfully, some of the world’s biggest technology players are taking note. According to this article, Google Canada recently donated $1.5 million to an organization that brings STEM programming education to hundreds of thousands of students, while Microsoft Canada partners with non-profits that provide STEM education.
In the U.S, initiatives such as the Federal Educate to Innovate program and countless university projects are in place to bring awareness to the issue while actively educating and preparing young people. There are many private-sector programs as well, such as Emerson’s “I Love STEM”—a multimillion dollar commitment to STEM and robotics—and Intel’s $300 million pledge to sponsor STEM education.
Clearly, these industry giants are well aware of how important STEM education is to their futures. And while most of us don’t have the billions of dollars that they do, we can each do our part to promote education and training, and to prepare for the future. It’s an investment that will bring infinite rewards.