Man holding tablet in front of robotic arm (Shutterstock)

American manufacturing is growing at its fastest pace in more than a decade. And Rochelle White is one of the reasons that trend is expected to continue.

White, 28, of Chicago, represents the next generation of American workers getting groomed for advanced manufacturing jobs. She is in the final phase of a free, 13-month program at Building Self Determination Industries, which operates a manufacturing company on the city’s South Side, where unemployment and poverty rates are high.

Woman holding instrument in front of case with robotic arm in it (Courtesy of Rochelle White)
Rochelle White (Courtesy photo)

Once White completes the program, she will be a certified robotics technician. She and 39 others in the current program receive training and then later apprenticeships at the company, which makes biodegradable plastic products, including cutlery, cups and lids.

“This program opened up a new era, a new opportunity for a black girl from the South Side of Chicago,” said White, who also holds a degree in sociology from DePauw University in Indiana.

Thanks to training programs like the one at BSD Industries, “people can get a good, well-paying job without having to get a four-year degree,” said Sarah Steinberg, vice president of global philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase & Company, a U.S. financial services company that helps fund the program.

The firm is spending millions of dollars to build programs across the country that mostly train high school graduates in underprivileged areas for advanced manufacturing jobs in Detroit, Michigan, and Upstate New York.

These programs also help make the U.S. manufacturing sector among the most competitive in the world.

“We’re all better off when we make, buy and sell more products made in the U.S.A.,” said President Trump, who has made American manufacturing a priority and signed several executive orders that support it.

Fastest pace in 13 years

American manufacturing expanded in September 2017 at the fastest pace in 13 years, according to figures from the Institute for Supply Management, the largest nonprofit professional supply management organization in the world.

“I think we have another year of manufacturing expansion,” said Timothy Fiore, chairman of the institute’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.  Activity among the “big six” industries in the U.S. manufacturing sector has shown growth since April 2016, Fiore said.

The big six in manufacturing represent 70 percent of manufacturing GDP. Those industries, from largest to smallest, are chemical products; transportation equipment; computer and electronic products; food, beverages and tobacco products; petroleum and coal products; and machinery.

The United States is well positioned to become the world’s leading manufacturer, because it possesses the right skills and work ethic, cheap energy and great distribution systems for products, Fiore said.

Watch this video to learn about U.S. manufacturing advances that have brought the world a wide range of devices, including computers, smartphones and medical instruments.

This article was written by freelance writer Lenore T. Adkins.