What exactly is manufacturing? The answer today is much different than it was even a decade ago.
Current careers in manufacturing mainly involve working in automation, which means the use of various control systems for operating equipment such as robotics or high-end machinery. Manufacturing ranges from developing tactical electronics to creating prostheses utilizing 3D printers to welding framework for skyscrapers and bridges. It includes making food, cars, fuel and other necessities that people need every day. And it involves working next to people, like you, who want to work with their hands and their minds.

Currently there are 12.5 million Americans in manufacturing jobs, and on average they earn $82,023 which is 12% more than the average worker.

Manufacturing is critically important and sometimes misunderstood. Careers in manufacturing require skill, thought and creativity. Gone are the days of dead-end jobs with back breaking work.

Manufacturing is more than just a job – it is a career with great potential. While some may still believe that manufacturing jobs are dwindling and companies are shutting down, the truth is just the opposite. The skills gap is a hot topic among Minnesota manufacturers, with attracting and retaining qualified workers continuing to be one of their top concerns. There is actually a severe shortage of Minnesota employees to fill these jobs. The 2017 State of Manufacturing Survey conducted by Enterpriser Minnesota showed a 40% growth in concern over qualified workers (those with the right skills and education) by small-to-mid-sized manufacturers.

South Central College offers three manufacturing programs that meet the needs of local industry and provide tremendous opportunities for students: Machine Tool Technology, Mechatronics and Welding. These programs provide education for students from the beginning of their career in manufacturing such as a entry-level certificate all the way to a 2-year degree.

To help guide students through the stages of their education, South Central College established the Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (MNAMP), a consortium of 12 Minnesota State Colleges and two centers of excellence. Through a Department of Labor Grant, MnAMP has built  sustainable career pathways in advanced manufacturing and aligned college programs with industry credentials

MnAMP has also established on-the-job-opportunities through a program called Learn, Work, Earn that enables students go to school and work at the same time. This allows them to master their skills while they earn wages. In some cases, their tuition is also paid. Working with community and industry partners through Learn, Work, Earn, South Central College created state-of-the-art classrooms and labs. In addition, faculty have updated the curriculum so students learn the necessary skills to make them employable in today’s market and adjusted program calendars to make it easier for students to work and attend college at the same time.

In the manufacturing industry there is one constant: change. Fortunately, thanks to the increasing evolution towards sophisticated high-tech systems, this change is bringing tremendous opportunities for students throughout Minnesota.  

To learn more about SCC’s  Advanced Manufacturing programs, visit  

To learn more about the Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (MnAMP), visit  www.mnamp.net.