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The month of October marks National Manufacturing Month, so it was fitting for Earn Up to present the virtual event Advanced Manufacturing: Clean, Efficient, Cutting Edge Workforce Briefing. The event had three keynote speakers from CareerSource Northeast Florida, JAXUSA Partnership and virtual host Collins Aerospace as well as a panel featuring guests from Saft America and Johnson & Johnson Vision.

The manufacturing industry employs over 35,000 people in Jacksonville and provides an average salary of $72,000. In addition to this impressive number of industry jobs, manufacturing companies in the region provide jobs in procurement, human resources, finance, information technology, and marketing. Nationally, the number of manufacturing employees is at its highest point since 2008—recovering quickly from the pandemic—and trending upwards, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

This year has looked bright for the manufacturing industry in Jacksonville.  A host of new companies are relocating or expanding their manufacturing right here in Northeast Florida. In the last month, there were over 1,300 job postings related to manufacturing in the Jacksonville region alone. Open positions included aircraft technician, team assembler, CNC operator, first-line supervisor, machinist, and welder.

However, most of these available jobs required a high school diploma. When applying for a manufacturing job, it is beneficial to have certifications that are recognized in the industry. Even if a degree is not completed, employers like to see applicants with lean manufacturing experience as well as some form of educational or work experience progression. Self-taught knowledge and soft skills, such as curiosity, communication and collaboration, are also helpful for employability.

Furthermore, as the industry becomes increasingly automated, new skill sets will be needed to fill these critical positions. What lies ahead is not a sudden takeover by robots but a period of change in how work is organized. According to MGI Research, less than 5 percent of occupations can be automated in their entirety, but within 60 percent of jobs, at least some of the activities could be automated.The industry is looking to the future and counting on the creativity and innovative efforts of the upcoming generation to move advanced manufacturing forward.

Resources provided through Earn Up are available to help connect the future labor force and unskilled workers through apprenticeships, internships and training programs. Many companies, including Collins Aerospace, Saft America and Johnson & Johnson Vision, appreciate the great value of entry-level employees and will provide tuition reimbursement for employees who are looking to further their education. They also have programs in place to engage high school students who are interested in the industry.

The advanced manufacturing industry is characterized by a community where opportunity is available for all people and that supports the individual’s growth and career goals. Employees are given plenty of chances to shift job types as they develop and learn in their positions, and they are able to grow both their skills and earning potential.

The region will continue to focus on the growth of the advanced manufacturing space. As Jacksonville continues to attract new companies, a skilled workforce will be needed to fill the ever-growing number of open positions and opportunities. Earn Up is committed to helping existing and future companies grow.