Can US manufacturing move from faxes to robots? | BBC News

By Kim Gittleson
BBC News, Chicago

June 1, 2015

Craig Freedman is the chief executive of Freedman Seating, which was founded during the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in the 1890s. Now, the firm – located just a 20 minute drive west of Goose Island – has over $100m in revenue and 700 employees.

“Every machine you buy today has some digital component to it – it isn’t what our grandparents or parents operated in the day pressing a couple buttons,” says Mr Freedman.

“It’s going to be a challenge to fill these positions because the technology is outstripping the ability to train workers.”

Mr Freedman cites the efforts of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance in creating a vocational manufacturing training programme at a local public school, Austin Polytechnic, as a potential model that DMDII could follow.

“I think Austin Poly is one programme that is really working on bringing the skills to the employers and not just training employees for jobs that aren’t going to exist.”


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