Today's manufacturers are using lighter materials -- and less of them -- to make products cheaper and more efficient. That's transforming many Indiana manufacturing jobs.
Now, the Indiana Manufacturers Association, or IMA, is teaming up with a federal group to train more workers in what's known as lightweighting.
Lightweighting jobs have been on the rise for six straight years in Indiana, with a record high of more than 17,000 posted online in the first quarter this year.
That's according to LIFT, or Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, a federal consortium on lightweighting research -- "whether it's redesigning, whether it's developing a new process for manufacturing something, or whether it's developing a new material for something," says spokesman Joe Steele.
By partnering with the IMA, he says they can join in job training and recruitment programs statewide.
Steele says American manufacturers will only profit from lightweighting innovations if they can hire the workers to match:
"One of our goals in terms of workforce initiatives is making sure that we have the workforce of the future trained and with the skills that are ready to take the jobs that involve those advanced technologies."
IMA workforce development director Stephanie Wells says those job openings will only increase as baby boomers retire, leaving skilled positions open for younger workers to fill.
"They're very familiar with technology, but they're not familiar with these kinds of technology," she says. "So I think LIFT provides us with tools to provide to policy-makers here, and also to educators and kids and everyone else about the cool stuff that they're doing in aerospace and automotive."
LIFT is also partnering with manufacturers' groups in Kentucky and Ohio.