The job wave of the future is almost here and it doesn’t require a traditional four-year college degree. In manufacturing and trade, the jobs for highly skilled workers with training in technology are on the rise, and they pay pretty well. 

Labor economists say the U.S.-based manufacturing sector still offers plenty of jobs. There have been advancements in assembly jobs, so smaller line jobs have less value than they once did. Grunt work such as lifting boxes and sorting parts are plentiful and easy for employers to fill, but they don’t pay much and don’t hold out much promise for future growth.

Laciny Brothers, a St. Louis machining shop, has a few machines idle because machinist positions can’t be filled. These jobs even have a pay ranging from $20 to $40 an hour. Despite a low manufacturing unemployment of 1.3 percent in St. Louis, Sally Safranski, chapter executive in St. Louis for the National Tooling and Machining Association, said the problem has the potential to grow.

Employers are searching everywhere for talented machinists who can craft odd metal and plastic parts. Skills required include math and programming along with hands-on labor. High school graduates are possible employees, but they don’t have the proper education when entering into the workforce. With these potential employees, trade schools, unions, and labor leaders could step up. Training for high school graduates to advance in manufacturing may help solve this issue. A local technical college is approaching trade training creatively, teaming with area employers to start apprenticeship programs that mix class and hands-on work.

Although these careers aren’t viewed as glamorous, they are just as rewarding. At a median wage of $22 an hour, these careers are highly attractive and six-figure salaries remain possible without a traditional four-year college degree. Leave the loafers at home and step into the future of manufacturing.


News, Workforce / Skills Gap