This article highlights the state of American manufacturing industrial and job market. According to economists and consultants, technology—and specifically Industry 4.0—can change manufacturing’s playing field. Embedded intelligence could bring manufacturers closer to their customers, making it more difficult for other nations to compete on price alone. However, experts emphasize that manufacturing jobs require advanced degrees or skills. Boston Consulting Group’s Sirkin analyzed manufacturing jobs by dividing them into skilled workers—college-educated professionals and such trades as machinists and welders—and low skill labor. Between 2003 and 2014, Sirkin found the number of skilled employees rose modestly while unskilled laborers fell by near 3 million workers, or 20 percent. Even on the factory floor, workers increasingly need computer and analytical skills to manage highly instrumented machinery. The article suggests that creating programs to teach critical-thinking, problem-solving, time-management, and decision-making skills will be critical to U.S. competitiveness in the future.

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