Industrial Technician Jobs Market Growing

April 15, 2024
What does it take to find work in robotics or mechatronics these days?

For manufacturers planning their future, technology is increasingly a core differentiator. And, when it comes to attracting, retaining and engaging the best talent, strategic hiring practices will dictate that skills should be compatible with value-driving technologies.  

Workforce development expert Dr. Parminder Jassal said that technology shifts have a direct bearing on robotics and engineering job market trends, and it is one reason that Unmudl, a skills-to-jobs marketplace she founded, has developed a focus on mechatronics. 

Why Focus on Mechatronics Skills?  

Mechatronics rose to the top as an area of focus for Jassal and her team. It is a multidisciplinary engineering program overlapping and melding with mechanical, electrical and electronics engineering disciplines in ways that "feed the robotics and the automation talent pipelines that are so incredibly important to the future of our economy,” Jassel said. 

READ MORE: The Big Payback: Engineering Salaries Rank Among Highest for Graduates 

The current U.S. mechatronics market size is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, with a projected 6.1% growth (2023-2029) and reaching a market volume of U.S. $ 4.9 billion in 2029, according to Maximum Market Research. The field is highly applicable in the realm of emerging technology and robotics. 

Personal Connection to the Field 

Mechatronics competencies are today at the core of engineering roles and, according to Jassal, the demand for mechatronic technicians is on the rise. “Companies have different roles associated with it—it might be a maintenance technician or a controls technician or an automation expert technician…There are a lot of jobs that are covered by this area,” she said. 

Jassal, who holds a Ph.D. in higher education economics, started her education at a community college where she was introduced to field requirements for programming robots. She later cultivated the niche interest for mechatronics. “My career has relied so much on the engineering mix that’s required to create solutions,” Jassal said. 

Through her company’s research she has observed a general “fascination with robotics,” but a gap remains in the understanding of which skill sets are required to find work in this area. 

Trade Program vs. Degree Program 

For Jassal, whose company connects learners and employers via a network of community colleges, the question on whether a trade program focusing on a practical field such as mechatronics can be equated to a four-year degree program remains open-ended.  

“Of course, I believe degrees have their value, or I wouldn’t have one,” Jassal said. “But how does that relate to the job market? And how do you get the stepping stones built so that you can go ahead and start with a job now in a matter of 26 weeks, rather than waiting until getting educated for four years and then going, ‘Hmm! That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do’.”

READ MORE: Survey of Engineers: Pushing Roles to the Edge of Possibility 

An approach that prospective jobseekers can take, she said, is to start by understanding how they want to proceed with their career. “It used to be that you have one kind of job or role for your entire career,” Jassal said. “That’s not true any longer.” 

Instead, career trajectories reveal as you go. “You may do one position—such as maintenance tech for robotics, and you may do that for a couple of years,” she said. “Then, you flip and go into automation. And all you need is just a little more coursework in order to do that.”   

Today, students have access to coursework that help them develop and build on the fundamentals, she said.

View Part One in the two-part video interview with Dr. Parminder Jassal, founder of Unmudl.

Editor’s Note: Machine Design’s WISE (Workers in Science and Engineering) hub compiles our coverage of workplace issues affecting the engineering field, in addition to contributions from equity seeking groups and subject matter experts within various subdisciplines.

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