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Advanced Manufacturing Technicians


The manufacturing sector has played a key role in the U.S. economy since the late 1700s, and technicians (or helpers, assistants, or apprentices, as they were called back then) were key players—building products by hand, operating machinery, assisting factory owners and engineers with research, and, later, overseeing the operation of robotics and other automated production processes. At its peak in June 1979, the U.S. manufacturing industry employed about 19.5 million workers, but increasing automation (which reduced the number of workers needed during the production process) and the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing jobs to foreign countries (where workers received lower salaries) caused the industry to shed nearly a third of its workforce between 2000 and 2010. Since then, the industry has rebounded to some extent (except for a significant period of job losses during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020). As of May 2023, the BLS reported that manufacturing and related industries employed an estimated 8.7 million people. The growing use of advanced manufacturing technologies and processes is creating a bit of a manufacturing renaissance in the United States. “Many experts expect additional job opportunities in manufacturing as large numbers of existing workers retire and advancing technologies, such as robotics, create new positions not previously seen on the factory floor,” according to the RAND Corporation.

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