Digging out of the recession these last few years with the help of advanced robotics, 3-D printing and "digitized everything," the lines between technology, business and manufacturing have been blurred almost completely.
The result is a new kind of manufacturing industry – STEM-based and overwhelmingly broad – that has once again reclaimed its place as the driver of the U.S. economy.
A new report from the Brookings Institute on "America's Advanced Industries" links 50 otherwise isolated industries – including 35 from the manufacturing sector and 15 more from energy and service – into one advanced industries super-sector in order to measure the real economic impact manufacturing and production in all its forms is having today.
According to the report, every new job falling into that advanced industries sector creates 2.2 jobs domestically. That means that of the 12.3 million workers currently employed in the super-sector, "another 27.1 million U.S. workers owe their jobs to economic activity supported by advanced industries through their supply chains and their employee's consumption."
While all of this is certainly good news for manufacturing, it also underscores some of the real and immanent challenges facing the American workforce that serves it: To keep up with this growing and diversifying high-tech industry, we need a workforce with advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills and high-tech experience to drive it.
STEM graduates at any level are pretty dismal in the U.S., which ranks 23rd among developed nations on that account. Worse, the report notes, Finland, South Korea, the UK, New Zealand, Germany, Portugal, Poland and the Slovak Republic all have STEM graduation rates 50% higher than the U.S.
And that is a major problem for a country so reliant on these advanced industries.
More on the Special Report: America's Advanced Industries on IndustryWeek.