Jill Biden Unveils Plans for Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development

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This week, the US Department of Labor (DOL) held a three-day event, “ETA [Employment and Training Administration] Vision 2030: Investing in America’s Workforce,” centered around a rollout of the Biden administration’s Investing in America Workforce Initiatives. The initiatives were spawned by the three primary pieces of legislation passed thus far under President Biden: the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

On Tuesday, May 16, the first day of the event, the featured speaker, First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS), Jill Biden, discussed some of the major aspects of ETA Vision 2030, including “Workforce Hubs” and the “Advanced Manufacturing Sprint.” Workforce Hubs are the DOL iteration of a topic I’ve been writing about frequently: the push for accelerated growth of advanced manufacturing clusters across the planet, driven by the US-China revival of traditional great power competition.

The Workforce Hubs program is similar to many other Biden administration initiatives, particularly this plan from a Department of Energy (DOE) initiative to create hubs for its Industrial Assessment Centers. Image courtesy of DOE

According to the White House Fact Sheet on the Investing in America Workforce Initiatives, “To unleash the full economic and job-creation potential of these public- and private-sector investments, the Administration has identified an initial set of five Workforce Hubs, each centered on key industries. …Each Workforce Hub, consistent with the needs of the specific city or region, will work to secure private-sector and state and local commitments to expand pre-apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship programs, develop or expand career and technical education programs aligned to Investing in America jobs and careers, and provide supportive services that are particularly critical to helping underrepresented students and workers succeed.”

America Makes, one of the most important Manufacturing USA institutes for workforce development, located in Youngstown, Ohio. Image courtesy of America Makes

The first five Workforce Hubs will be in Phoenix; Columbus, OH; Pittsburgh; Baltimore; and Augusta, GA. All the hubs in the Fact Sheet are described as areas of burgeoning growth in emerging industries, all either directly or indirectly related to manufacturing, and especially semiconductor manufacturing.

As for the Advanced Manufacturing Sprint, it seems similar to what is happening with the Workforce Hubs, in terms of making Registered Apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, and the like, more accessible. The difference is that this is a nationwide initiative revolving around the sectors that comprise advanced manufacturing. The objective presumably is to connect and coordinate the capabilities of the peripheries with all their central hubs. Moreover, and perhaps most relevantly for the 3D printing industry, this component of the overall workforce initiative explicitly involves the Manufacturing USA institutes, such as America Makes and NextFlex.

Finally, there are sixteen more cities across the country covered by the third major component of the workforce program, the “Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy,” which, according to the Fact Sheet is also meant to “complement” the Workforce Hubs. Thus, all the many government-supported initiatives, tax breaks, etc., are certain to have a major impact on the flow of workers into the additive manufacturing (AM) sector, among others. I would even say it is likely that the AM sector is affected above all other sectors in the earliest phases of the program, since among all other, similarly emerging technologies, it is farthest along in its technical readiness.

As with every component of the Biden administration’s comprehensive manufacturing overhaul, the specific benefits available for qualifying companies will be rolled out a little bit at a time. But the event was a good reminder that 3D printing businesses and investors should always be on the lookout for announcements of workforce development aid. It both boosts the industry as a whole, and is probably the easiest way to get (relatively) no-strings-attached financial stimulus from the federal government.

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