By Edward Cardenas

SOUTHFIELD (CBS Detroit) – A new report found that employment in lightweighting-related occupations is on the rise in Michigan, and the Great Lakes region, over the past five years and is poised for continued growth.

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Between 2009-2014, there was an increase of more than 300,000 lightweighting-related jobs between 2009 and 2014 according to a new market report from LIFT (Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow) and WIN (Workforce Intelligence Network).

“The LIFT region is focused on bringing mind to market with lightweighting technologies and processes,” said Emily Stover DeRocco, education and workforce director, for Corktown-based LIFT in a release. “As lightweighting-related employment continues its gains, it is now more imperative than ever to work collaboratively as a region to fill the skills gap through proper education and job training.”

Lightweight materials are increasingly being utilized by suppliers in the automobile, aerospace, ground vehicles, shipping, rail and defense manufacturing industries. By utilizing lighter materials, vehicles have improved performance and use less fuel, according to industry officials.

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According to the new November/December 2014 report, Michigan lightweighting-related jobs employed nearly 700,000 individuals in Michigan in 2014. Even though employment in these occupations have not recovered to pre-recession levels. more than 100,000 jobs have been added since 2009.

The report added that “employment growth potential is great if enough workers are properly trained, skilled and qualified to fill them.”

The market may also be picking up in recent months, with more than 10,000 job postings in Michigan for lightweighting-related jobs over the final two months of 2014. Of these postings, 39 percent were in engineering and industrial design occupations, with more than one-third of all postings advertised a wage off more than $50,000 per year and more than half requiring a bachelor’s degree, the report stated.

“Lightweighting in Michigan has and will continue to be a contributing factor to the vitality of our economy,” said Amy Cell, senior vice president of talent enhancement, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, in a release. “As job demand continues to rise, higher education is essential for career readiness in order to meet industry demand and contribute to statewide economic growth.”

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The report found the most in-demand lightweighting-related occupations in Michigan included:

  • Electrical and mechanical engineering (2,758 job postings)
  • Assembly and operation (1,874 job postings)
  • Skilled materials workers (1,496 job postings)
  • Logistics workers (1,415 job postings)
  • Machinists (750 job postings)