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The robot industry is hiring. Do you have the skills?

A new white paper by the Robotics Industries Association (RIA) says that as many as 2 million US manufacturing jobs will go unfilled in the next ten years due to a lack of skilled workers. According to the paper: “80% of manufacturers report a shortage of qualified applicants for skilled…

A new white paper by the Robotics Industries Association (RIA) says that as many as 2 million US manufacturing jobs will go unfilled in the next ten years due to a lack of skilled workers. According to the paper: “80% of manufacturers report a shortage of qualified applicants for skilled production positions, and the shortage could cost US manufacturers 11% of their annual earnings.”

Sought-after skills include: computer vision, algorithm design, robotics, vision systems, motion control, robot design, safety expertise, application developers, human-robot interface design, PLC controls, mechatronics, networking, and integration.

According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, manufacturers rank talent as the most critical driver of global manufacturing competitiveness.

“The skills gap is the industry’s number one concern,” said A3 President Jeff Burnstein in an interview, “and it’s threatening the US manufacturing industry’s ability to compete globally.” According to a recent Deloitte study, that skills gap will be exacerbated as 2.7 million boomers retire from the US manufacturing industry over the next ten years.

Countries like China and Japan have already invested heavily in automation to help boost productivity and efficiency as their working age populations retire. In other regions, there is worry about robots taking people’s jobs. A recent economic study suggested that robots may have been responsible for eliminating between 360,000 and 670,000 manufacturing jobs in the US between 1993 and 2007, but Burnstein points out it’s important to look at both sides of the equation. Robots are creating jobs in the US manufacturing industry too, and companies pay well for these jobs because the competition for skilled workers is stiff.

The Deloitte study reported that, because of the skills gap, 600,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled in 2011 alone.

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RIA’s white paper was released at Automate, a bi-annual automation conference that recently took place in Chicago.

Download the RIA white paper here.

By Hallie Siegel

Hallie Siegel served as Robohub's first Managing Editor - from March 2013 to January 2016 - and in that time built an international network of over 150 expert contributors and grew Robohub's readership to 75,000 unique monthly visitors. Through her communication expertise and editorial guidance, she worked directly with hundreds of robotics and AI researchers, startups, and industry members to build a unified community news platform for sharing major developments, contextualizing key issues, and engaging in discussion.

Her two main priorities at Robohub were to: 1) Create a central repository for tracking major events and developments across the breadth of the robotics field (research, business, industry, ethics, policy, government investment, and the arts) that would serve as a tracking resource for the community; and 2) to build a culture of effective science communication in the robotics community, through education and editorial support.

Key contributions toward these goals include launching and co-authoring (Feb 2014 - Nov 2015) Robohub's monthly digest; moderating the Robotics panel at the 2013 Open Innovations Forum in Moscow, developing curriculum and delivering science communication workshops at ICRA and the Skolkovo Robotics Conference, developing more than a dozen focus series on key topics like standardization in robotics, autonomous cars, regulating robotics, and the Big Deals series, which looks at why major companies like Google, Amazon and Softbank are investing in the field.

In her time at Robohub she interviewed many experts in the field, including Dmitry Grishin (Grishin Robotics), Rich Mahoney (SRI), Toshio Fukuda, and Clearpath's Ryan Gariepy. She also contributed occasional analysis, editorial and reporting:

Japanese telcos vie for share in consumer robot-as-a-service business

Let’s hope that #IStandWithAhmed will help improve diversity in robotics

Does the Small UAV industry need its own coalition?

Snowden BEAMs into TED: How robotic telepresence disrupts borders

Turning the lens on robotics reporting: An interview with New York Times technology reporter John Markoff

Background
From 2008-2010 Siegel worked at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control (IDSC) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) with Raffaello D'Andrea's research group. On her return to her native Canada in 2010, she continued to consult with various groups at ETH, including the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the European Control Association, and the Gramazio Kohler Group, for whom she wrote edited and wrote key portions of the successful CHF 13.4 million NCCR grant for Digital Fabrication.

Siegel is also an artist represented by the Olga Korper Gallery in Toronto, Canada, and has exhibited internationally. Her artwork is primarily motivated by the history of disruptive technologies.

Whether working with others or on her own projects, Siegel is at heart a story teller interested in how technology shapes the human condition.

She remains an editor-at-large, seeking out important stories to tell in the disruptive technologies landscape.