Tech Won't Kill The Need For Skilled Labor

Dave Petratis

There's a common argument that technology will replace workers—but, truth be told, manufacturing is a people business. Jobs in modern manufacturing use people's problem-solving abilities and technical skills to create and innovate. While some processes can be automated, they are still managed by people and require skills like coding and programming. Because of that, I believe there will continue to be great-paying jobs in our industry moving forward.

A commonly reported statistic states there could be as many as 2.4 million unfilled positions by 2028. In my experience, I've found candidates will always seek out employment at companies with exceptional culture. Modern manufacturers should embrace innovative cultures just as they embrace innovative manufacturing processes. Our people are excited to get to work every day. We care about our employees—care about what they do each day, care about how they are feeling and that they have the tools, training and equipment they need to be successful.

In turn, Allegion seeks out candidates who want to engage with our business and problem solve: we need people who are interested in Manufacturing 4.0 and remain curious beyond the obvious—because we want to engage the hearts and minds of every employee. It's extremely important to global operations, global supply chain and, really, the whole business, that we actively invest in the future of our manufacturing employees. That's why we've had apprenticeship programs for years that help our production teams build their technical capabilities.

Our newest apprenticeship program is based out of Princeton, Illinois, and consists of 17 current employees who are learning to successfully operate Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines. These are extremely critical pieces of equipment for our business. It creates the unique aspects of the individual parts—the access points, the geometry of the part—and it requires great accuracy. The apprentices are learning the machines so they can effectively troubleshoot and enhance productivity, as well as work safely. It's programs like this one that give our people the capabilities they need to safely build us high-quality product for our customers.

The CNC apprenticeship program is just one example of how incorporating technology onto the manufacturing floor can benefit our employees, specifically those interested in gaining new skillsets. Because no matter what machines we bring in, there is always a need for people to think critically and creatively to push our business forward. The people who run it. The idea that we can run multiple machines, get exponentially larger output, and do it all safely with our employees is really exciting. There are people who enjoy the interaction between humans and robots, and these positions are for them.

Additionally, Allegion employees from all roles and backgrounds are invited to participate in Trailblazer—Allegion's innovation tournament. Employees will focus on groundbreaking process improvements and creative product ideas, competing against teams from across the globe to create new concepts and push the boundaries of what's possible. 

Technology won't kill the need for skilled labor—it'll improve the capabilities we have in manufacturing and help us continue to create high-quality products safely and efficiently. We wouldn't have a business without our team of employees on the manufacturing floor.


Bob Flaherty

VP, U.S operations and global enterprise excellence