Titled “More High Schools Teach Manufacturing Skills” the article confirms that ” U.S. high schools that have launched or revived manufacturing programs in recent years to guide students toward good-paying jobs and help fill a critical shortage of skilled machinists, welders and maintenance technicians.”
Here are a couple of points that they make that are worth sharing:
There is a glaring imbalance in the labor market. Despite high unemployment since the recession, manufacturers still struggle to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings.
Manufacturing is dogged by an outdated image
Manufacturing is “Actually, “you’re working with computers and robots that are doing what you used to do by hand. That requires a skill set (in math and science) above what was required a generation ago.”
Community colleges also are turning out more prospective employees but not keeping up with demand. Nationwide, community colleges awarded 1,557 associate degrees or certificates in manufacturing last year, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. That’s up from 616 in 2005 but below the nearly 1,600 doled out in 2000.
But the best takeaway from this piece is a quote from a student whose engagement with the manufacturing class has improved his grade performance and motivation: “With this class, I have the motivation…It’s a way out, I don’t want to be working at McDonald’s.”
Thank you USA Today for this positive story.
“The manufacturing industry is facing an employment crisis. The rate of technical advances has outpaced our ability to educate and train workers on new machines and applications, creating a “skills gap.”–Mark Tomlinson, CEO, Society of Manufacturing Engineers.
I thought it was interesting that even during the depths of the last recession, the classified ads in the major newspapers still showed opportunities for setup and machinists in our precision machining sector of advanced manufacturing. It’s still true today. We have visited local community colleges around the country that provide machining training and we hear the same story, after the first semester, “most of our students already have found a job or have one promised upon graduation.”
Here’s more from Mark-
“This is a great time to work in manufacturing. We’re applying once pie-in-the-sky technologies to real-world needs: creating strong yet flexible limb replacements for our wounded warriors, robots that crawl into the fuselage of an aircraft, mountain bikes for extreme enthusiasts, engineered for safety pushing the boundaries of men and machine. It’s stuff that captures the imagination.
“Yet students are not pursuing these jobs despite the cool factor. Some of it is institutional and some of it is perception. A major challenge is there is no academic infrastructure to administer STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum on a national scale. That’s compounded by a lack interest in STEM by educators, parents and students who may be more inclined toward attending a four-year college.”
We need to help change the perception of manufacturing and skilled trades. In educators, parents, and students.
We need to help change the notion that going heavily into debt for a bachelors degree without a plan for return on investment (ROI)is the weay fofr our sons and daughters to get their start in life.
We need to show parents, students, counselors, teachers, our communities, the “existential joys of manufacturing”- the cool stuff we make, the high tech machines we use to make it, and the broad math, science, problemsolving intellectual skill set that we bring to our work.
That our skilled machinists are worthy of the highest respect.
If you would like to investigate a career in advanced manufacturing / precision machining- we’ve prepared a a database to help you access training resources wherever you are. PMPA Career Info Database.
For more info you can also search on “Manufacturing,” “Skills,” or “Career” in this blog’s search box in the upper right corner.
ITR Economist Brian Beaulieu gave a very informative economic outlook for the attendees at PMPA’s Manaement Update Conference in Glendale Arizona last week.
We saw lots of charts and correlations that helped our members make sense of all the conflicting ‘news’ and economic indicators that are our constant distraction.
But I can share with you the one graph that should give you the confidence to find your career in advanced manufacturing (like our precision machining industry) rather than go headlong into debt for a college degree that may not have a positive return on investment.
US Manufacturing as a percentage of GDP (Value Added) (3 Month Moving Average)
This graph documents recent history, going forward we see manufacturing jobs returning to North America as energy prices for the rest of the world increase.
We see energy access and prices improving for U.S. Manufacturers as a result of the shale gas boom.
We know personally, despite the uncertainty in the market, that many shop owners are trying to add talent, so they can continue to sustain their levels of production and customer service.
If going deep into debt for a degree with no return on investment is something that you are determined to do, good luck with that.
If however, you could consider the idea of learning and earning as you go, I can heartily recommend getting a start in precision machining via a local community college.
It has been our experience that you will have a job before you complete a one year operator program, and the balance of your training and education will be sponsored in whole or part by your employer.
The idea that there is just one narrative for success- go to college and get a good paying job- is no longer a workable one. The majority of unemployed people today have some college.
Today College assures most students’ debt, but not neccessarily a high paying job.
More than 53% of the unemployed having some college, and the unemployment rate for recent college grads over 10%.
The Associated Press reported earlier this year that “about 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years… Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.”
Recent college grads are actually faring worse in today’s job market than the overall youth population. And compared to the older college-educated populace, they have at least twice the rate of unemployment.
Over half of recent college graduates jobless/underemployed? In debt with no higher paying job to make the loan payments? Unable to make loan repayments waiting tables?
The Skills Solution.
Manufacturers need skilled workers.
Manufacturers are looking for people who
Can solve problems,
Are comfortable with math,
Are capable of working without a lot of direct supervision.
Community colleges offer programs in CNC machining, offerring programs that award credentials and certificates for a short duration study program, as well as 2 year associate degrees for a formal course of study.
Manufacturing is recovering.
Manufacturing has the most traction coming out of the last recession.
Baby Boomer retirements (10,000 per day turn 65 years old !) are creating an opportunity rich environment.
I would try to get employment in advanced manufacturing and then build on that with additional training at local community colleges.
There are other schools and other programs in your area.
The idea of one narrative for success- go to college and get a good paying job- is no longer a workable one.
In manufacturing, you will be making things that make a difference in people’s lives, and the quality of their lives- things like anti-lock brakes, air bag safety devices, orthopedic and medical device, aerospace parts to name a few- I would urge you to consider a job in manufacturing. It is safe, well paid, and between upgrading your knowledge and skills and the inevitable retirements of people already on the job, this might just be the best possible career wave you will find.
Darlene Miller was interviewed by President Bill Clinton at Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago recently.
Darlene Miller, President and CEO of Permac Industries, Vice President of PMPA, gave an employer’s perspective of Right Skills Now during a panel discussion about developing talent to continue economic recovery that has been led by manufacturing.
Darlene ‘s segment begins at 9:00 in the below video.
Clinton asks “Why is manufacturing recovering and growing again, and what are the constraints to finding workers, and what have you done about it?”
Miller answers “US manufactures as much as Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. We need skilled people- to fill over 600,000 openings we have. But we don’t need just labor, we need skilled people. We started Right Skills Now to help people get the skills they need for a career in Advanced Manufacturing.”
PMPA provides staff support to Ms. Miller and her work on the President’s Job Council and Right Skills Now. Our precision machining companies are looking for people with skills and talent to get a great career in advanced manufacturing.
The blue bar segments in the following graph shows us that as the baby boomer cohort leave the workforce, there are currently not enough under 25 and 25- 34 year olds to make up for their loss. This means that not only will productivity increases have to continue, but also that we need to really make an effort to bring 34 and under people into our skilled workforce in manufacturing. This will certainly be a challenge for employers, and if nothing is done, will mean a new management version of the No Job Blues– “the no skilled worker blues” – for our shops as we try to find candidates for open positions left by the departing boomers.
If you are a savvy shop, you are working on this issue today- if the average age of our manufacturing workers is 50, that means over half of our workforce are within a few short years of retirement.
What’s your plan for workforce and skill development in your shop, city, region and state?
“A few weeks of on-the-job training are enough for most workers to learn basic machine operations, but 1 year or more is required to become highly skilled. Although a high school diploma is not required, employers prefer to hire workers who have one.”
Okay, so they didn’t get this one right.
Well maybe they did for machine tenders, but certainly not for CNC machinists.
The way I see it, Taxonomy is difficult, and the BLS’s decision to hide “Manufacturing” under Production doesn’t make sense to this aging baby boomer.
I see the world through Fabricated Metal Glasses and manufacturing is people making things, not tending to waste water or dry cleaning.
But the data and information that is available on the new site is current, authoritative, and I can say from my perspective – was vetted by people like me who helped the economists at BLS see these jobs from outside the beltway.
Congratulations for updating the Occupational Outlook Handbook Online.
We may not agree with all of your wording or taxonomy, but we are pleased to see good information about the opportunities for work in Manufacturing.
Even if they can’t say “Manufacturing” in Washington D.C..
Why do you think the officials in Washington D.C. can’t say the “M” word?”
Greg Knight, vice president of PMPA member AMT Machine Systems, suggests conducting a little experiment. In a social setting with a group of people, try suggesting that manufacturing just might be an alternative to a traditional four-year college degree.
“The reaction will be, ‘No, my kid needs to go to college.’ A career in manufacturing is not seen as a legitimate choice,” said Knight. “You cannot change ideas on this in a short period of time. This is about cultural change and it will take a lot of time and a lot of work.”
In the recently released “Public Pulse on American Manufacturing” by Deloitte, only 33 percent of parents would encourage their child to pursue a career in manufacturing, only 19 percent of school systems are perceived to encourage students to pursue careers in manufacturing, and only 17 percent of students report being encouraged by their parents to pursue a career in manufacturing.
Our Torn Views
It’s clear that Americans value a strong manufacturing sector. When asked which industries are most important to the national economy, manufacturing is always near the top of the list. If you were to poll economic developers nationwide and ask them if they could create 1,000 new jobs in their community with any new facility, you can bet that for most communities would choose manufacturing.
And yet, if you were to ask those same economic developers if they wanted their sons or daughters to pursue a career in manufacturing, what do you think the answer might be. Well, I think you probably already know the answer to that one.
So we are torn. We want manufacturing jobs, just for someone else. Deloitte’s public pulse study showed that out of seven key industries, manufacturing ranks second to last as a career choice. It remains perceived by most people as an unstable long-term career choice. And our future talent pool is none too thrilled. Among 18-24 year-olds, manufacturing ranks dead last among industries as a career choice.
That’s not good. We have our work cut out for us.
So mamas, your babies don’t have to grow up to be doctors and lawyers and such. They can have a good future in a modern manufacturing plant if they only pursue the training and develop the needed skills.
Nobody said it can or would be easy.
There are no guarantees in life, just better informed choices.
Manufacturing deserves another look.
(Speaking of Precision:I became acquainted with Dean Barber’s thinking through some online discussions on LinkedIn groups. I thought his thinking reflected ours and was worth sharing.