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‘Future of Manufacturing’ Report Released

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Autodesk, Inc. have released the results of their collaborative multiphase research project on the ‘Future of Manufacturing.’ To provide industry and academic guidance for advanced manufacturing, ASME and Autodesk conducted a research study from August 2021 through May 2022 that investigated and identified the future workflows and skills needed for mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, and machinist roles over the next decade as those roles converge and evolve.

“Industry voices have clearly called out the large gaps between the jobs skills required and the candidates’ skill sets. The skills gap will only widen as manufacturing firms accelerate their digital transformation to Industry 4.0,” according to the ‘Future of Manufacturing research report. The report includes recommendations and adoption guidelines for educators and manufacturers on system-level approaches to reduce ‘time to talent’ and achieve Industry 4.0 business outcomes. In addition, the report advocates for collaboration between government, industry, and academia in creating tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce.

The research team reviewed existing literature from nearly 80 academic, government, and industry sources in the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union, interviewed 30 academics and industry leaders in the U.S. and UK, and surveyed more than 300 in the U.S., UK, and Canada.

“We really had to ask ourselves and the field, what is next? What are the jobs of the future and the skills needed for those jobs? And most importantly, how and who do we train for the positions that don’t exist yet?” says Ashley Huderson, Ph.D., ASME’s director of engineering education and outreach, and a leader of the research team.

Emerging technologies including design for manufacturing (DfM), operations technology infrastructure, artificial intelligence/machine learning technologies such as generative design, integrated software platforms, and centralized data management will require new skills of mechanical and manufacturing engineers and machinists, the researchers found. The report recommends training and education to develop these ‘hard skills’ for current and future employees. In addition, engineers and machinists will need strong ‘soft skills’ including creative problem solving, communication, and collaboration, and interdisciplinary skills to close gaps for each job role.

“Our findings demonstrate a shared commitment between industry and academia to build a bright future for manufacturing,” says Simon Leigh, senior manager of design and manufacturing education strategy at Autodesk. “Their overlapping interests in embracing emerging technologies, cross-role collaboration, and supplementing degrees with more hands-on learning gives us hope that future workers will be equipped with the skills that are direly needed for success in Industry 4.0.”

Click to download the full report.