Workforce Development
Building the next generation of automation professionals

Dedicated to advancing the automation profession

Central to the mission of the Automation Federation is advancing the science and engineering of automation technologies and applications—moving the automation profession forward. Achieving this goal requires ongoing innovation. And ongoing innovation requires a steady influx of new minds—with new ideas, new perspectives and new skills—to the field.

US Manufacturing skills gap could leave as many as 2.1 Million Jobs Unfilled by 2030, as per the Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute Study. The study points to the top reasons these positions tend to go unfilled, with new entrants having different expectations for jobs and careers topping the list (38%), followed by lack of attraction or interest in the industry (36%) and retirement of baby boomers (34%).

According to Deloitte’s analysis, 8 in 10 job titles with the highest number of job postings in 2019 and 2020 were for entry and mid-level positions, generally requiring only a post-secondary certificate or high-school diploma.

To accomplish filling the workforce gap for manufacturing, industry needs to create awareness and interest to attract new skilled entrants into manufacturing.

Outlining the competencies for success

In considering how to reduce the skills gap in advanced manufacturing, the Automation Federation recognized that young people as well as educators needed a clearly described roadmap to success in the automation profession.

By working with the US Department of Labor, the Automation Federation in 2009 established the Automation Competency Model (ACM), a multi-tiered model that outlines the specific personal, academic, workplace, and technical competencies required to succeed in an automation career.  In 2014, the ACM was updated with additional competencies in mission-critical operational technology and industrial automation and control systems to respond to the growing need for industrial cybersecurity professionals.

Furthermore, the Automation Federation is currently working in partnership with other industry organizations to develop new competency models specific to both industrial cybersecurity and engineering.

Related: Cybersecurity Competency Model

Related: Engineering workforce development model co-developed by the Automation Federation wins national award

Partnering with community colleges to develop automation curricula and degree programs

Serving nearly half of the undergraduate students in the US, community colleges provide vital workforce development and skills training that would be otherwise inaccessible.

The Automation Federation has long regarded community colleges as essential for providing the community-based education and training needed to groom future automation and control professionals and engineers. For many years, it has been working with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to help expand students’ access to automation curricula and degree programs.

In 2012, the Automation Federation worked with the AACC to establish the US Automation Community College Consortium. The member colleges that comprise the Consortium use the Automation Federation’s Automation Competency Model as the framework for developing an automation curriculum that will result in two-year degree programs in specific automation arenas and provide an educational track leading to a four-year degree program in automation, engineering, and technology.

Supporting a diverse and inclusive high-tech workforce

Integral to the mission of the Automation Federation is an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. Attracting greater numbers of women and people of all backgrounds, cultures, religions, races and creeds is critical to the future of the automation profession and to society as a whole.

View helpful workforce development resources.


The Automation Competency Model, the building blocks to a career in automation (view in detail)