Jul 6, 2020
As industrial robots grow more sophisticated, there likely will be a shortage of human workers with the necessary technical and nontechnical skills to work with, program, and repair their machine counterparts. In this report, researchers assess the state and future of education and training for technicians who work in advanced manufacturing using robotics, with a special focus on the U.S. Midwest region and the adjoining state of Pennsylvania.
In many factories today, robots are already working alongside human workers and have been doing so for some time. Analysts anticipate that this trend is likely to grow as industrial robots become increasingly sophisticated and advanced. At the same time, there likely will be a shortage of human workers who hold the necessary technical and nontechnical skills to work with, program, and repair their machine counterparts. Given this reality, it is critical that new workers and those who are in the process of retraining have access to effective and affordable training programs. But do we have enough quality programs to serve this need? And what factors constitute a "quality program"?
The RAND Corporation was asked to assess the state and future of education and training in advanced manufacturing (AM) using robotics, with a special focus on the U.S. Midwest region and the state of Pennsylvania — areas that currently are and historically have been hubs of manufacturing and provide important test cases for answering questions about the availability and content of AM training programs. The research team examines the economic context in which education, training, and workforce development programs currently operate and potentially will operate in the near future; reviews available programs and evaluates their curricular content and instructional practices and technologies; and reviews promising educational practices in these areas. The team also offers recommendations for stakeholders to consider as they work to meet the needs of the future AM workforce.