To those of us in this field, this mantra is beginning to sound like a broken record, but to many others it is still sounding untrue. Many continue to believe that U.S. manufacturing is dying, that there are no good jobs and that the ones left offer only a dirty and monotonous career.
One only needs to read the recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Help Wanted on Factory Floor,” by James Hagerty to learn that the lack of qualified workers for the advanced manufacturing and engineering field has reached a crisis.
In order to compete globally and have a sound economy, a nation must make things; this has always been the backbone of our country and without intelligent, technically savvy workers, our standard of living will falter.
The article correctly points to three trends that are contributing to the dearth of qualified employees.
First, manufacturers are starting to hire again after almost 10 years;
Second, despite the recent delay in retirements, the baby boomers are beginning to retire in massive numbers now and into the near future; and
Third, “… the U.S. education system isn’t turning out enough people with the math and science skills needed to operate and repair sophisticated computer-controlled factory equipment, jobs that often pay $50,000 to $80,000 a year, plus benefits. Manufacturers say parents and guidance counselors discourage bright kids from even considering careers in manufacturing.”
I find this third trend the most troubling, but it is the only one of the three over which we actually have some control.
According to the National Science Foundation, about 5% of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the U.S. are in engineering, compared with an average of about 20% in Asia. According to the WSJ article, “In the most recent comparison of math and science test scores of 15-year-old students by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, American students trailed far behind those from China, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Germany.”
Everyone should view these statistics not only as a wake-up call, but as appalling.
While many manufacturers, big and small, across the country are working with their local career technical schools, institutions of higher education, returning veterans groups and even the prison system to sponsor internships, offer apprenticeships and in addition provide tuition reimbursement, our country will never be able maintain or improve its competitive advantage until our education system, both public and private responds en mass to the needs of the industry.
I know I now sound like a broken record, but hopefully my voice as well as others’ will begin to be heard.
Article submitted by Bank of America For mid-market companies, business success and responsible growth aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, prioritizing responsible growth is becoming increasingly important, and successful companies are making sustainability central to their growth strategies. Beyond good corporate citizenship, they are recognizing the intrinsic link between the strength of their business and that of the communities and economies in which they operate. Leading your growth with those goals in mind builds resilience and better solutions for the future. Consider the following: Responsible growth companies perform better. Companies that consider the impact of risks and opportunities on the environment, local communities and society may produce better financial results than those that don’t. Additionally, 90% of companies believe a sustainability plan is important for remaining competitive. Responsible growth companies attract investment. A 2016 study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group surveyed 3,000 executives and managers from more than 100 countries. Findings revealed that 75% of senior executives in investment firms agree that a company’s sustainability performance is materially important to their investment decisions, and nearly half would not invest in a company with a poor sustainability record. Ninety percent of executives see sustainability as important, but only
HEADLINE The survey definitively shows that product innovation leads to more growth, while “grow your own workforce” strategies will be needed to fill the major labor shortages hampering small manufacturer growth. Emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and digital manufacturing are beginning to enhance innovation and productivity, but still have significant room for adoption amongst Ohio’s small manufacturing businesses. ABOUT THE SURVEY Under the direction of the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Ohio MEP), MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network conducted a thorough survey of Ohio’s manufacturing base. Contributing approximately 20% of Ohio’s jobs (and driving in some regions up to 50% of Ohio’s economy), and generating a disproportionate amount of export revenues and Gross Regional Product, manufacturing is critical to Ohio. Greater than 95% of Ohio’s manufacturers are small (under 500 employees), and these manufacturers need to remain competitive both nationally and internationally to ensure our economy’s health. Ohio’s Development Services Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which runs the MEP, recognizes the importance of this sector and fuels MAGNET and the Ohio MEP program to directly serve and support innovation, efficiency, and growth in small and medium manufacturers. What manufacturers need
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