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Job Titles in 2032

The Evolving Status of Occupations in Manufacturing

Despite the recent surge of factory investments and re-shoring, the manufacturing sector is projected to lose more than 100,000 jobs in the next decade (2022 – 2032). The industry is making headway in automation practices – improving efficiency and output that can adjust headcount needs. However, it is not a one-to-one ratio.  

To better understand the projected changes, Manufacturers Alliance compiled industry projections to see what jobs roles are increasing, and what are decreasing in occupation rates to better prepare. Check out the dashboard below.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections, National Employment Matrix, 2023.

Looking Ahead

For a good example of job volume volatility, look at the electric vehicle market. “Stronger demand for electric vehicle batteries and energy battery storage systems is expected to result in rapid employment growth in battery production. That growth is evident in the other electrical equipment and component manufacturing industry, gaining 52,700 [expected] jobs over the decade,” as projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Certain tasks are transferring to robots, AI, and other various forms of technology. But, in turn, manufacturing is seeing an increase in talent-specific positions that cannot be replicated with machine learning.  

As some doors close, others open. For industry, manufacturing is looking to see anywhere from 1.9 million – 3.8 million new jobs open from 2024 until 2033. Improperly equating total jobs and job openings have the potential to catch manufacturers in a bind. Already manufacturers are challenged with attracting and retaining talent, as noted in Manufacturers Alliance member research, which the skills gap perpetuates. The vacant positions could cost the economy $1 trillion in 2030 alone if it continues at the expected pace.  

As manufacturers evaluate their current and future employment needs, it is essential to understand the current situation and identify which modern workforce decisions.

What’s In: Data Analysis; What’s Out: Data Input

Manufacturing jobs are not what they used to be. Today, elevated levels of automation scatter operations in well-lit, clean facilities. The expansion in advanced manufacturing brings forth careers with greater analytical skills – tasks that technology like Generative AI has not yet been able to take over. This transcends the manufacturing industry to the overall job market as more companies adapt digital technologies that “will produce a massive amount of data that workers collect, organize, analyze, and protect. Employment in occupations such as data scientists, statisticians, and information security analysts are projected to grow more than 11 times the average rate.”

With more critical insights and business information created digitally an increase in cyberattacks and data breaches is expected, which creates increased demand for cybersecurity solutions, according to BLS. “This increase, in turn, will fuel demand for the information security analyst’s occupation, which is projected to grow 31.5% over the 10-year period between 2022 and 2032, making it the fifth fastest growing occupation in the economy,” BLS notes.

Breaking this into job categories, computer and information analysts (6.6%) and computer and information research scientists (20.9%) are all expected to see growth over the next decade. In fact, it is the eighth fastest growing industry. “This industry is also seen adding 474,800 jobs over the projections period, the second most of any industry,” according to BLS. In contrast, computer programmers (-15.4%) and data entry and information processing workers (-30.5%) see some large losses in employment numbers. Though this is not a direct cross comparison, it highlights the broader data-heavy expectations and the fact that general IT training is likely not enough for manufacturers looking to reskill current employees or scope out new talent. 

Digital Technology Rising to the Forefront

As greater amounts of technology come into facility operations, so have digital demands. “Employment opportunities in the computer systems design and related services industry are expected to arise because of demand for information technology and cybersecurity products and services.” In our recent connectivity research, interviewee Dan Stuart, Senior Vice President and CIO at Southwire, shared “We are starting to put IT resources in key manufacturing facilities because there’s so much new IT gear out there nowadays, between the demand for OT security, the sensors, the IoT devices, and the new equipment – all of which are now connected to the network.”

With greater digital applications, modern technology skills and the oversight of such are pushing up managerial level roles. Computer and information systems managers are expected to rise 9.3% in the next decade. To a lesser extent, industrial production managers (1.5%) and operations specialties managers (4%) are inching forward. While not seeing the large expansion that the specific IT roles are expected, there will still be a blend of operations technology management that remain an important figure in facility management.  

Now that technology has become more “self-sufficient” in the growth of Industry 4.0, hands-on positions and operators are also seeing the long-term effects. Hand cutters and trimmers (-29.1%) and hand grinding and polishing workers (-21.1%) are seeing larger cutbacks. Not to the same degree, but assemblers, fabricators, tool operators, and model makers are seeing significant reductions in their projected employment changes. As more technology comes into facilities, jobs with deeper skill sets, including technicians, engineers, and machinery mechanics, see projected upticks up to 20% by 2032.  

While the automation of many activities is causing a decline in production occupations, there will be segments experiencing growth due to specific initiatives or product demand. “The combination of strong demand for semiconductors and incentives provided through the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act is expected to lead to an 8.0-percent increase in employment in semiconductor processing technicians over the projections period,” according to BLS.

Industry 4.0 is also being linked to providing a safer and better environment for businesses who embrace the technology. Industrial engineers, including health and safety, are expected to rise just under 11%. The greater reliance on digital assets and tools has changed manufacturers’ approach to connectivity. Manufacturers no longer must rely solely on hardwire connections but have the choice between solutions like 5G/4G and Wi-Fi as they retrofit or build new sites, potentially explaining the 31.3% expected increase in telecommunications line installers and repairers.

The Balance of Tech and Talent, Not Tech versus Talent

Workers are also seeing higher rates of technology coupling their work. Forbes predicts that two-thirds of jobs in the United States and Europe will be exposed to some degree of AI automation. Within the past few years, AI investment in manufacturing alone has estimated to be reaching $2 billion in 2025.

Advances in AI have been compounded by growth in generative AI and greater application of deep learning for complexity. No stranger to AI, manufacturers have been complementing operations with machine learning and data for decades, and even within the last 12 months, 93% of manufacturers surveyed have added new AI initiatives. Like the above, there is clearly a greater need for computer skills than ever before. Software developers have just under a half million new jobs projected in the next decade. Manufacturers have also noted a high partnership rate with companies specializing in AI solutions at 76%, illustrating the need for skills to be brought in from external providers if not strong enough in house.  

Who Are Manufacturers Partnering With for AI Solutions?

Source: Manufacturers Alliance Foundation AI Survey, 2024

As AI impacts workers, digital transformation and Industry 4 or 5.0 continue to shape the expectations of future occupations. In recent research, Digitalization Gains: Manufacturers Forge Ahead with Digital Transformation, Manufacturers Alliance Foundation uncovered that the majority of manufacturers have instituted digital transformation technologies in supply chain optimization (51%), and many have operational technologies in data analytics and business intelligence (49%), and manufacturing productivity efficiency/OEE (46%). If you look at those implementing and piloting these technologies, more than 9 in 10 manufacturers are on the journey.

Between both AI and digital transformation, some of the biggest challenges include learning curves, skill misalignment, and retraining needed to implement and make effective the growing market of tools at the industries’ disposal.  

Connect the Right Skills with the Right Forthcoming Assets

The projected decline in manufacturing jobs over the next decade, despite the recent surge in factory investments and re-shoring, reflects a significant shift towards greater automation and technological integration within the industry. Projections have displayed a demand for more specialized roles that require analytical and technical skills, which machines and AI cannot yet replicate.

The manufacturing sector is expected to generate substantial employment opportunities in emerging fields such as electric vehicle battery production, data analysis, and cybersecurity – vital roles as digital transformation continues to reshape the industry, demanding a workforce adept in managing and analyzing vast amounts of data generated by innovative technologies. Overall, this further emphasizes the need for specialized training and education programs to prepare the future workforce. Addressing those interested in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations are expected to rise just under 11%. Skilled talent is tough as market competition is high, but those seeking to understand and anticipate the industry's evolving talent needs can strategically position themselves to capitalize on new opportunities, ensuring sustained growth and competitiveness in the global market, and talent can expect changes in role availability and security.