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News | June 3, 2024

ARM Institute Issues Future of Work Study

By ARM Institute

The ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute today publicly released its Future of Work study. The study, previously issued to ARM Institute Members, details how advanced technologies, chiefly robotics, automation, and AI, are changing the nature of manufacturing careers and the actions needed to prepare the U.S. workforce for these changes.   

Manufacturing and the development of technology to improve manufacturing have been a source of American prosperity and national security for over a century. The introduction of disruptive technologies, while addressing critical areas of need in manufacturing, are also changing the very nature of work for U.S. manufacturers. New skills and different types of training are needed to prepare workers.  

Leveraging existing research, interviews, and case studies from across the ARM Institute’s network, this study provides key insights on workforce issues and programs that are helping prepare workers for the changes that are already here and those that are on the horizon. This new study provides lessons learned, best practices, and actionable steps for educators, employers, and labor unions to take in order to build a future-ready manufacturing workforce.    

“The integration of robotics and AI into manufacturing environments poses a significant opportunity to strengthen U.S. manufacturing,” noted Lisa Masciantonio, ARM Institute Chief Workforce Officer, “However, a collective effort is needed to ensure that the manufacturing workforce has the skills needed to take on new roles created by these technologies. The ARM Institute plays a key role in preparing workers by making information about training and jobs more accessible and by raising awareness about robotics career opportunities in manufacturing.” 

Select findings from our report include:  

  • Current and near future industry trends emphasize keeping humans in the loop; both people and machines will be critical to the future of manufacturing and robots are not expected to replace all jobs. 
  • In response to AI, there is a growing need for almost all workers in operations to understand the importance of data and how algorithms use data for outputs. 
  • The most difficult skills to find today are programming, Computer-Aided Design and Modeling (CAD/CAM), Virtual Reality (VR), and robotics along with traditional skills like a machinist, welding, and CNC. 
  • Manufacturers and training centers are developing a pipeline of future workers, and some are beginning to fund programs that reach middle school students. 
  • There is a growing presence of “Learn & Earn” training programs that pay wages to participants as they learn new skills. Workers who have a mix of education and training beyond high school, but no bachelor’s degree, are expected to gain nearly 300,000 good jobs. 
  • Some manufacturers are developing their own company-sponsored training programs to fill their pipelines. 
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) programs are becoming increasingly common and funded by both private and government sources. 
  • Unions’ top challenges in this changing environment are upskilling the current workforce, understanding what technologies are on the horizon, worker safety, and job protection.
Download the report at no cost here: 

The ARM Institute would like to offer a very special thanks to Dr. Liz Reynolds for her conversations and insight as a motivating force for the ARM Institute in studying the future of work, and for her efforts in this area as former Special Assistant to President Biden for Manufacturing and Economic Development.  

The ARM Institute also thanks the following organizations for their contributions to this report: the Block Center for Technology and Society at Carnegie Mellon University, AccuRounds, AFL-CIO Technology Institute, Airbus Americas, AmSkills, APT Manufacturing, Association for Advancing Automation (A3), A.W. Beattie Career Center, Boston Dynamics, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Duro Workforce, Festo Didactic Inc, Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University, Lorain County Community College, the Manufacturing Futures Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Motlow State Community College, National Association of Workforce Boards, National Coalition of Advanced Technology Careers (NCATC), New Century Careers, NSF Corps at Drexel University, Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Manufacturing Technology Program, RapidTPC, Robins Air Force Base, Robotics Academy at Carnegie Mellon University, Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, SimInsights, Southwest Alabama Partnership for Training and Employment, Stellantis, TechSolve, United Auto Workers, The Uniquely Abled Project, University of Illinois Workforce and Education Research Collaborative, Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, and Westchester Community College. 

Catch Our Presentation at the Smart Manufacturing Experience in Pittsburgh, PA

Join the ARM Institute and Carnegie Mellon University for a joint presentation outlining lessons learned from the creation of this report during SME’s Smart Manufacturing Experience Conference. Our presentation will take place on June 5, 2024. Learn more here.

Press Inquiries

Contact Livia Rice, ARM Institute Director of Outreach & Engagement, at  with interview/press inquiries.

About the ARM Institute   

The ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute is a Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Agreement Number W911NF-17-3-0004 and is part of the Manufacturing USA® network. The ARM Institute leverages a unique, robust, and diverse ecosystem of over 400 consortium members and partners across industry, academia, and government to make robotics, autonomy, and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness, and elevate national security and resilience.  Based in Pittsburgh, PA since 2017, with a regional office in St. Petersburg, FL, the ARM Institute is leading the way to a future where people and robots work together to respond to our nation’s greatest challenges and to produce the world’s most desired products. For more information, visit and follow the ARM Institute on LinkedIn and X(Twitter)