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Texas Manufacturing Seeks Skilled Workers As Boomers Retire And Industry Evolves

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Manufacturing helps drive Texas' economy, but this growing sector is also grappling with a nationwide labor shortage. Why is the industry so hungry for skilled workers and what's being done to fill the gap?

Texas' manufacturing industry employs more than 874,000 people who earn an average annual salary of $71,500. In 2018, the state exported $247.46 billion in manufactured goods.

However, a study by The Manufacturing Institute shows the manufacturing worker shortage could reach 2.4 million by 2028, as baby boomers retire and their jobs remain unfilled.

The Texas Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education program was formed in 2016 in response to a skill deficits in specific job areas, including multi-skilled technicians for advanced manufacturing.

The program offers dual-track, apprenticeship-style training with industry partners like Toyota, CPS Energy and H-E-B that prepares students to earn a living in manufacturing.In May, TX FAME graduated its first class of students, all of whom earned an associates degree as an Advanced Manufacturing Technician and gained work experience with one of their industry partners. 

What kinds of advanced manufacturing careers are available in Texas? Why is experiential learning important in this industry? How does the "earn-as-you-learn" model work? What are the qualifications to for TX FAME enrollment?

How is technology changing the industry and its need for workers? Could automation help close the gap? What else is being done to help build a reliable pipeline of manufacturing talent in Texas?


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource.  

*This interview was recorded on Thursday, August 1.


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Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.