While traditional manufacturing jobs may be declining, they’re being replaced by advanced manufacturing positions requiring skills in such things as 3D design and additive manufacturing. In fact, those types of jobs are booming – the problem is that the field is growing so quickly that the workforce can’t quite keep up. 3D printing has exploded over the past few years, and while more and more schools are realizing the need to teach the technology, many of the people learning how to 3D print today are still years away from joining the working world.
Plenty of adults are willing and ready to take on these advanced manufacturing jobs, but not enough of them have been trained in the skills needed. Trade schools are racing to establish programs in additive manufacturing, CAD, robotics, and other advanced manufacturing tools, but many companies are still faced with the issue of needing someone certified in these skills immediately – and not having enough of an employee pool to draw from.
America Makes has been working to solve these issues and others that stand in the way of widespread adoption of additive manufacturing. Now the organization, along with the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) and Tooling U-SME, have developed an apprenticeship in additive manufacturing, certified by the US Department of Labor. It’s the first ever industry-vetted Additive Manufacturing Technician Registered Apprenticeship, according to America Makes.
“The approval of the AM Technician Registered Apprenticeship by the Department of Labor is the accumulation of a great deal of work and learnings, many of which were leveraged directly from the America Makes Workforce and Education Roadmap,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes Executive Director. “We are proud to have played an important role in this initiative to empower employers nationwide to develop and customize AM apprenticeships to create a much needed, highly skilled additive workforce.”
The development of the framework for the Additive Manufacturing Technician Registered Apprenticeship was a key America Makes initiative through Apprenticeship Works, a collaborative project between RCBI, America Makes, the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers, Tooling U-SME and AST2, and supported by the Department of Labor.
RCBI, a founding member of America Makes, leads Apprenticeship Works. Through the initiative, RCBI works with partners across the United States to expand apprenticeship opportunities in advanced manufacturing, making them more accessible and affordable for employers.
“The formal recognition by the DOL OA of the AM Technician Registered Apprenticeship is a big step forward for the AM industry at large,” said Josh Cramer, America Makes Workforce and Education Director. “The AM innovations are out there. What’s needed most is a skilled workforce to support the innovative work. With the AM Technician Apprenticeship framework now available, employers can combine on-the-job learning with related instruction in specific additive processes and technologies to produce qualified, highly-productive employees.”
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