Back in the mid-1700s, steam engines and factories changed the face of American and European economies and society, and that was the Industrial Revolution. At least, that is the Industrial Revolution they teach kids about in school. Following the first industrial revolution, the world experienced two more: The age of science and mass production and the rise of digital technology. Now, it appears, we’re on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution, and this one, like the three before it, is expected to revolutionize the American economy.
A Glimpse at the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The past three industrial revolutions brought about profound change and significant societal transformations, and the fourth promises to be no different. However, while you might expect this particular era to (finally!) birth the flying car and floating buildings, the changes will be much more subtle. In fact, they’re so discreet they’re already upon us.
The revolution we’re currently living through is powered by social, cloud, mobile, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and increased computing data and power. All those changes may seem anticlimactic (The first industrial revolution saw trains!), but they come together to create some pretty impressive technology.
Think robots that can perform surgery, 3D printing, genetic sequencing and editing and cancer diagnostic methods that boast a 99% accuracy rate. These developments, along with countless others, will fundamentally and forever transform the way we live, work and communicate.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution Has Created a Manufacturing Boom in America
After decades of decline, manufacturing in America is making a significant comeback. However, manufacturing today looks a lot different than it did 300, 100 or even 50 years ago. A snapshot of American manufacturing indicates that growth is most concentrated in areas of advanced manufacturing, including electronics, aerospace and pharmaceuticals. While other areas of production are seeing a significant decline, these areas are booming, which can only mean one thing: More jobs. Below is a brief overview of how advanced manufacturing is expected to change, or has changed, the American economy for the better:
- Advanced manufacturing accounts for 13% of US jobs and 19% of US GDP.
- Just one advanced manufacturing job supports 3.5 more jobs, compared to just 2.2 jobs of those in other sectors.
- The average worker in advanced manufacturing makes $95,000, compared to the $77,000 workers in a typical manufacturing setting make.
- 53% of large US manufacturers have talked about moving back to the US from China, while 17% are already in the process of reshoring (compared to 37% and 7% respectively in 2012).
- The industry is expected to generate another 9 million new jobs by 2022.
However, though the demand is there, the workforce might not be ready. Advanced manufacturing requires a workforce with a higher level of education and sophisticated skillsets. Workers, businesses and governments can help prepare for the job boom by remaining adaptive, providing training and opportunities for growth and supporting STEM education.