This short article from the Huffington Post gives a nice summary of the state-of-the-industry in 2012:
The economy is improving and jobs are being created except not in the places and industries you might expect. According to the just released Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the manufacturing and service industries are the most challenging for human resources professionals and recruiters looking to add positions at their companies as of July 2012.
That’s not the story which finds its way into the main headlines, is it? The problem in manufacturing isn’t that there aren’t enough jobs, it’s that the jobs that are still in demand are higher-skilled than many of the ones the industry has shed over the past decade. The modern factory is highly automated and specialized, while at the same time agile enough to handle the changing demands of its customers. That requires highly-skilled technicians and engineers.
Industries, particularly the automotive industry, are also working to standardize their operations around the world, which, in addition to cutting costs and keeping quality control more manageable for the factory owners, also means that the best operators can move around the world to where their services are best rewarded. Those hoping to make (or maintain) a career in manufacturing would be well-advised to stay on top of their skills and personal development.
Eagle Technologies Group is an industry leader in the design and implementation of factory automation systems worldwide.