SME Logo


About SME

Workforce Development


SME is inspiring, preparing and supporting current and future generations as they discover what’s now and what’s next. More


New M.Lab21 to Transform Career & Technical Education

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker poses with PRIME school students after announcing new initiative. More

Great Lakes

Four Selected as Benchmark Talent Development

SME congratulates the Great Lakes Manufacturing Council for its new workforce initiative. More

SME Workforce Development Brochure

Inspiring an Industry

SME is authority entrusted with developing a talented manufacturing workforce. More

SME is passionate about providing knowledge to the manufacturing workforce — present and future. Through its strategic areas of events, media, membership, training and development, and the SME Education Foundation, SME is uniquely dedicated to advancing manufacturing by addressing both knowledge and skill needs for industry.

Why is workforce development important?
There are a myriad of factors that influence children as they grow into adulthood, but education is universally recognized to be a major factor that can open doors to future success in the workforce. With nearly 75 million baby boomers set for retirement, now, more than ever, technically skilled workers are in high demand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that, in the 21st century, manufacturing employment as a share of the total workforce is going to decline by 10.6 percent (or 1.5 million jobs), mainly in repetitive manufacturing jobs. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, employment in advanced manufacturing, however, has risen by 37 percent. For example, employment in pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing is expected to grow by 23.8 percent and add 69,000 new jobs by 2016. The aerospace and defense industry has a backlog of production that extends to 2030, requiring continuous upkeep of their workforce. Transportation will continue to grow and change, requiring a workforce that is flexible, knowledgeable and focused on their deliverables. According to a 2011 Skills Gap Report, more than 83 percent of U.S. manufacturers report an overall shortage of qualified employees. This can be changed by educating young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), providing them with information about the manufacturing world, and allowing them to experience beneficial opportunities. In addition, the current workforce needs to be able to transition into high-skill, high-wage, high-demand positions.


Column: What a skilled trades career looks like for Michigan teens
Now that Governor Rick Snyder has secured the governorship for another term, expect to see a strong focus on vocational education training during the next four years. Full Article
MLive Column 12-10-14

Save the Date for the National Educators Workshop
The workshop  provides participants with the latest topics, strategies and methods for teaching the broad reach of the materials sciences and technologies. It unites educators at all levels with a materials science focus, offering classroom tested hands-on labs, demos and workshops to assist instructors directly in their teaching. Full Article
NEW Workshop

U.S. Manufacturing has an Image Problem
American manufacturing has an image problem. Many potential workers don’t want to go near it because they think it’s dirty work. They also worry about job security, remembering outsourcing and plant closures. Now that manufacturing is having something of a comeback in this country, its bad image threatens to block it from getting the talented workers it needs to grow. Full Article
NPR (5-16-14)

SME Leadership Series Trains Current and Future Manufacturing Leaders
The practical advice and real-world examples provide guidance to attendees to help them be better leaders, regardless of title, position or career level. Full Article
SME Leadership Series - WFD (4-10-14)

SME's Student Chapter at Keene State College Create Presidential Inauguration Keepsake
From start to finish, the students designed and produced the keepsake, made of bar-stock brass and CNC machined. Full Article

Keene State College

SME Contributes Workforce and Education Expertise in Support of New Digital Lab for Manufacturing
The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded a grant to UI Labs in Chicago to create the Digital Lab for Manufacturing. This lab will be part of a consortium to develop and demonstrate digital manufacturing technologies and deploy and commercialize these technologies across key manufacturing industries. SME plans to play a significant part in workforce development for the new Digital Lab. Full Article  
Digital Lab (2-25-14)

Conventional Image of "Dirty" Manufacturing Scaring Away Critical Talent Pool of Smart, Skilled Women
Indeed, for more than a generation, North America's middle classes have been turning up their noses at what they perceive to be the undesirable work portrayed in popular movies like Norma Rae — work that is purportedly dirty, low-skill, monotonous and offers meager pay, poor working conditions and limited job security. Full Article
Skilled Women (4-01-14)