It is easy for big city editors and academics to broadly dismiss the real issues that employers face as we try to find and hire skilled workers. There are systemic disincentives and cultural issues that are discouraging people from getting the skills that could lead to a great career in precision machining and advanced manufacturing.
PMPA President and Member Darlene Miller, President and CEO of Permac Industries in Burnsville, MN was mentioned  in INC Magazine’s Latest Article on the Skills Gap.

Graduates of jobs training programs are being hired on the spot
Graduates of jobs training programs are being hired on the spot

The article shares the success of Darlene Miller’s efforts  to jump start the creation of a training program for machinists in her area.
“Darlene Miller, CEO and owner of Permac Industries in Burnsville and a former member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, contacted the Manufacturing Institute to develop a fast-track program, Right Skills Now. Area companies worked closely with two community colleges to create a 24-week intensive course, including internship, that launched in October 2012.
So far, businesses are happy with the result; graduates “are scarfed up as soon as they finish,” Miller says. The program has spread to eight states; four groups of 18 to 20 people have finished in Minnesota, with a placement rate approaching 95 percent.”
But the INC Article  glosses over some very critical issues in an attempt to poo-poo the fact that “there are issues finding people for specific jobs in specific industries;” and states that in the workforce as a whole there is no skills gap.
Issue: Schools are not preparing students for careers in advanced manufacturing. Check..

  • Weak math skills in applicants,
  •  Inability to use ruler, let alone micrometers or more sophisticated gaging,
  •  Lack of shop classes in most school districts.

These are facts that we face with most applicants right out of school.
Issue: Unmotivated workforce. Check.

  • Workforce participation rate has never been lower since they started keeping track of it.
  • Why work when you can collect benefits? 
  • Our shop owners report that many applicants are just going through the motions since they still have many weeks of extended federal benefits.
  • Also many applicants can’t pass a drug test. One PMPA member told me that they lost 2/3 of their new hires within a year  for either drugs or failure to show up to work as scheduled.

This is reality. Generous unemployment benefits and their extension provide a disincentive to people to work.
Issue: Employers aren’t training. Hogwash.

  • Our shops provide many forms of training to our new hires as well as our established employees.
  • Many provide training in house through ToolingU.
  • Many have arrangements with local schools to provide coursework on premises.
  • Many have tuition Reimbursement Programs.
  • Also, PMPA provides CEU recognition to member company employees who attend association provided training events.

It is easy for big city editors and academics to broadly dismiss the real issues that employers face as we try to find and hire skilled workers.Skilled workers to add value in our advanced manufacturing precision machining shops. But the facts that our shop owners face daily establish that there is a skills gap in our industry. Despite the best efforts of our company managements, trade association, and community colleges to make a difference, there are systemic disincentives and cultural issues that are discouraging people from getting the skills that could lead to a great career in precision machining and advanced manufacturing.
 What are you doing to address the skills gap? How do you see the skills gap in your efforts to add talent?
Photo credits INC Magazine

The Manufacturing Institute has developed a one-stop, how-to guide on developing and recruiting a skilled workforce.  Written by and for manufacturers, the toolkit on Developing Skilled Workers speaks to chief executives, human resources professionals, and operations managers, with steps to take, partners to build, and templates to use to grow their own talent pipeline.
Toolkit for employers
Toolkit for employers
Here’s the link.

The M-List is curated by the Manufacturing Institute to include those institutions that offer NAM endorsed metalworking skills training and certification.

PMPA partners with the Manufacturing Institute to promote the growth of credentialed metalworking professionals following the NAMEndorsed -NIMS Skills Credential Model.

The M-List recognizes high schools, community colleges, technical schools, and universities that are teaching manufacturing students to industry standards.  Specifically, these schools offer students the opportunity to earn NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certifications as a standard part of their manufacturing education programs.

The NAM-Endorsed Skills Certification System is a system of stackable credentials that can apply to all sectors in the manufacturing industry. These nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials validate the skills and competencies needed to be productive and successful in entry-level positions in any manufacturing environment.

Right Skills Now is an acceleration of the NAM Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certifications Program designed to fast track qualified candidates into a career in precision machining / advanced manufacturing.

See the M- List here.

If there is no M-List program in your area, don’t despair. PMPA has prepared a database of institutions that offer relevant skills training for precision machining (some of which offer the same NAM endorsed -NIMS Manufacturing Skills credentials here: PMPA Career Training Database

No ROI for college loans? Consider getting a skill that will assure you of a job- and a means to earn your way through college.
No ROI for college loans? Consider getting a skill that will assure you of a job- and a means to earn your way through college.

If you are one of the unhappy college graduates mentioned in Forbes- perhaps you should consider bringing your talents to work in our industry.

CNN Photo

Manufacturing Institute and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) announced May 9th   their partnership called Get Skills to Work to encourage transitioning military personnel and recent veterans to look at careers in manufacturing.

Get Skills to Work Logo

Recent veterans have a demonstrated ability to work in teams and perform under pressure.

They understand that showing up on time is important.

They have experience acquiring data and acting on it.

They have demonstrated their ability to follow directions, respond appropriately to challenges, and work well with others.

In many cases, their lives and the lives of their comrades depended on it.

Team experience is relevant experience.
Team experience is relevant experience.

I can’t think of someone more qualified to make a human safety critical component for your car’s anti-lock braking system or for the airbag system or …

If you are interested in learning more about how to tap this valuable resource of human talent for your shop, check the link here

For more info on Get Skills To Work for Employers

For more info on Get Skills To Work for Veterans

Photo credit

“Manufacturing transforms more than materials into products. It transforms individuals into craftspeople. It transforms communities into global trade partners. It transforms companies into engines of human growth. It transforms our quality of life for the better.”- Darlene Miller

We were not surprised that  the Manufacturing Institute recently selected PMPA member and 1st vice president Darlene Miller to be an inaugural STEP awards honoree.

Permac Industries' Darlene Miller visits the White House Thursday February 24, 2011.
Permac Industries’ Darlene Miller visits the White House Thursday February 24, 2011.

Manufacturing Institute: “…honored because they each made significant achievements in manufacturing through positive impact on their company and the industry as a whole.”

That’s a bit of an understatement.

Darlene’s leadership success reaches across the country and across organizations as she personally mentors at risk young women through Hope for Tomorrow, served as a member of the President’s Council for Jobs and Competitiveness (PCJC), and founded the Right Skills Now program to help meet the need for trained high skill workers in advanced manufacturing.  She serves on a number of important committes for the U.S. Chamber Small Business Council, and is a frequent invitee, and presenter at various policy forums including the Clinton Global Initiative, The Atlantic Council and others. She promoted the nationwide adoption of the Right Skills Now training program and supported the creation of the  10,000 Engineers program, created to spur engineer retention by providing student internships. She advocates tirelessly for NIMS certifications  and a credentialed workforce. She continues to work with additional schools across the company to make Right Skills Now readily available to potential machinists.

Darlene was named Small Business Person of the Year by The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2008, and the SBA in 2006 currently serves as Vice President of the Precision Machined Products Association, and was selected by her peers to be the association’s first female President in 2014.

We are proud to see our vice president and member  Darlene Miller recognized for her efforts to promote manufacturing in North America. To promote manufacturing as a career. And to be recognized for her work at the national level to make a difference in the lives of talented but unemployed persons who are- thanks to her work with Right Skills Now- finding a career in advanced manufacturing.

PMPA extends our congratulations to Darlene Miller. And to the thousands of other individuals like her that are trying to make a difference in advancing our craft, our employees, and helping all find their highest and best use through careers in advanced manufacturing.

The Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) has partnered with The Manufacturing Institute to expand Right Skills Now, a fast-track machining training program aligned to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System.

Working together to help talented people connect with careers in advanced manufacturing.

Right Skills Now and the Skills Certification System are successful programs that are building the educated and skilled workforce manufacturers need to successfully compete in the global economy.

We have seen estimates of up to 600,000 open jobs available in advanced manufacturing. Positions in precision machining, tool making, welding, and quality control are jobs where you can make a rewarding career as well as a living.

PMPA and The Manufacturing Institute are combining forces to help make information available about these careers, programs where you can get started to qualify for these careers, and to promote the use of credentials and the Skills Certification System to assure employers of the ability to perform defined skills and operations. Expanding Right Skills Now will help make the training and credentials more widely available.

Read the full release.

For more information to help you decide if a career in precision manufacturing is for you, go to PMPA Career Page.

Just because everyone else is unemployed doesn’t mean that you have to make the same decision that they did. Get the facts about a career in advanced manufacturing.