The Welcome Return of an Old Idea

By: John Sprovieri, Assembly One of the ironies of the economic recovery is that, despite an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, U.S. manufacturers are struggling to find workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. manufacturers posted 310,000 job vacancies in May. That’s three times the figure from May 2009. And yet manufacturers nationwide are finding they can’t get good help. In Indiana, for example, 5 percent to 10 percent of manufacturing jobs go unfilled because applicants lack the necessary skills. What’s alarming about that figure is that it could very well get worse. The age gap between our industrial and nonindustrial workforces is widening. The manufacturing sector is being disproportionately affected by the aging of the American workforce. Today, the median age in manufacturing is 44.1 years vs. 42.1 years for the total non-farm workforce, and the gap continues to spread. Manufacturing desperately needs young blood. Fortunately, a growing number of U.S. manufacturers are reviving a tried-and-true concept: the apprenticeship. One of them is General Electric. In February, GE launched a two-year apprenticeship program at its River Works jet engine factory in Lynn, MA. GE worked with a local community college to develop the program, and the company has already enrolled 19 people. Twelve are training as machinists, and seven are training in machine repair. Participants will be eligible for tuition reimbursement from GE after six months of employment, and those who successfully complete year one will earn a certificate in manufacturing technology. Graduates of the second year will earn an associate’s degree in manufacturing technology. Nine-hundred miles south, in Stanley, NC, Blum Inc. has been successfully running an apprenticeship program since 1995. A manufacturer of cabinet hardware, Blum created the Apprenticeship 2000 program with four other local manufacturers. The program recruits students from 36 area high schools. The four-year program pays apprentices to attend classes at a local community college. Apprentices also receive training at the sponsoring companies’ facilities. Apprentices can train as tool and die makers, electronics technicians, CNC machinists, machine technicians, molding technicians and welders. Upon completion of the program, the students earn a journeyman’s certificate and an associate’s degree. More importantly, they are guaranteed jobs paying at least...

Report: Manufacturing Could Create 3.85M New Jobs

By: Manufacturing.net According to a new report from Deloitte, America can reverse the decline in the manufacturing industry, but only if it encourages innovation, trains workers and addresses tax reform and regulations, while also investing in infrastructure and energy. The report, “Manufacturing Opportunity,” explains that while low-cost basic manufacturing is unlikely to ever recover its former importance in the economy, it does not mean further decline is inevitable. Deloitte recommends refocusing on long-term opportunities in increasingly complex and emerging technologies—and in America’s ability to lead in the innovation and research and development of such breakthroughs. “Most Americans believe manufacturing is central to improving the ailing economy and say not enough is being done to support it,” said Craig Giffi, vice chairman and U.S consumer and industrial products leader, Deloitte LLP and the report’s author. “During this election season, candidates have an opportunity to not only recognize the importance of manufacturing but also address ways to support it by fostering innovation, developing talent and making investments in infrastructure.” “Manufacturing Opportunity” states that new pathways to manufacturing growth are both available and achievable. It also outlines several recommendations compiled directly from input received during extensive interviews with leaders from the business and academic communities, as well as organized labor. They include: Invest in Research and Development: For America to regain its position as a global leader in manufacturing and revive economic prosperity, it must invest in the research and development needed to produce the advanced technologies used in the manufacturing sector. Train Tomorrow’s Workforce: Advanced training is required to meet the needs of manufacturing jobs. Today there are 600,000 jobs that cannot be filled in America because manufacturers cannot find workers with the right skills. A focus on performance-based education and fostering government-to-industry partnerships, among many other recommendations, can help better prepare new generations of workers. Reform Taxes and Regulations: Numerous tax policies create a substantial burden for American manufacturers. In 2011, the United States had the highest corporate statutory tax rate among OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations. It is the only G8 member that does not employ a territorial tax policy. Policymakers in Washington should address corporate tax reform and consider a...