The Rise of High-Skill, High-Wage Production Jobs

cans being made


By Dr. Yustina Saleh, Rob Sentz, and Meredith Metsker | March 2018

After decades of job loss and a struggling reputation, manufacturing has made a comeback in the United States. Since the recession, production jobs have increased—and so have the knowledge and skill requirements.

After analyzing hundreds of thousands of job postings, we observed that manufacturers need multi-functional engineering technicians possessing both traditional manufacturing and engineering skills. The result is that today's high-value production worker is a hybrid of a boots-on-the-ground technician and an engineer laser-focused on improving how things get done.

The technical skills required yield competitive wages and also transfer well to other in-demand industries such as finance, professional services, and health care. To ensure the future of domestic manufacturing, educators and employers must recognize the potential of these high-skilled production jobs and work together to train the next generation of workers.

In this paper, we will (1) show the demand for domestic production jobs since the recession, (2) summarize the major skills that employers need, and (3) explain the compensation and transferability for these skill sets.