Lightweighting — A Heavyweight Job Creator

DETROIT — The invented word is “lightweighting,” and when it comes to job creation it’s fighting far above its weight class.

Two industry groups say that employment in lightweighting-related occupations rose by more than 100,000 jobs in Michigan between 2009 and 2014. That brings the state’s lightweighting-related job total to nearly 700,000.

In the five-state area covered by the trade group LIFT — Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow — lightweighting employment rose by 300,000 from 2009 to 2014. (Besides Michigan, the states covered by LIFT are Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.)

The report was issued jointly by LIFT — which opened its headquarters in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood last month — and the Workforce Intelligence Network of Southeast Michigan. WIN is a collaborative effort between nine community colleges and seven Michigan Works agencies, in partnership with numerous other organizations, to create a comprehensive workforce development system in Southeast Michigan. WIN covers Genesee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

“The LIFT region is focused on bringing mind to market with lightweighting technologies and processes,” said Emily Stover DeRocco, LIFT’s education and workforce director. “As lightweighting-related employment continues its gains, it is now more imperative than ever to work collaboratively as a region to fill the skills gap through proper education and job training.”

Lightweight materials are increasingly important to the competitiveness of transportation manufacturing, including suppliers in the automobile, aircraft, heavy truck, ship, rail and defense manufacturing industries. Lightweight vehicles for the military, industry and consumer alike improve performance, while using less fuel.

The report also noted that there were more than 10,000 job postings in Michigan for lightweighting-related jobs over the final two months of 2014. Thirty-nine percent of these postings were in engineering and industrial design occupations, with more than one third of all postings advertising a wage of more than $50,000 a year and more than half requiring a bachelor’s degree.

“Lightweighting in Michigan has and will continue to be a contributing factor to the vitality of our economy,” said Amy Cell, senior vice president of talent enhancement at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “As job demand continues to rise, higher education is essential for career readiness in order to meet industry demand and contribute to statewide economic growth.”

The most in-demand lightweighting-related occupations in Michigan included:
* Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (2,758 job postings)
* Assembly and Operation (1,874 job postings)
* Skilled Materials Workers (1,496 job postings)
* Logistics Workers (1,415 job postings)
* Machinists (750 job postings)

Lightweighting job openings

The full Michigan report can be found at http://lift.technology/education-workforce-development/.

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