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

I know some folks who have an uncanny ability to predict the future. They are not psychic, indeed, they are the kind of people that discount that sort of thing out of hand.

The secret of these folks is that as critical thinkers, they are able to recognize the assumptions of the present state, AND MAKE INFERENCES from the data that they have.

They make these inferences by not being slavishly tied to the present assumptions.

12 page pdf about your impending future. Scarier than Stephen King.

The folks at the National Association of Manufacturers (PMPA is a member) have issued a new report fiscal shock: America’s Economic Crisis Executive Summary.

8 bullets that tell the future your business is facing:

  • Absent legislative action, large spending cuts and large tax increases will hit the economy at the same time, causing a total fiscal contraction of $500 billion, or about 3.2 percent of GDP.
  • Washington’s failure to address the pending fiscal cliff is already having an impact, cutting 0.6 percentage points from GDP growth for 2012.
  • The worst could be ahead. If the fiscal contraction happens, the economy will almost certainly experience a recession in 2013 and significantly slower growth through 2014.
  • From 2012 to 2015, the economy will lose 12.8 percent of the average annual real GDP it could have attained with moderate growth, sapping critical resources from all economic sectors.
  • Job losses will be dramatic. By 2014, the fiscal contraction will result in almost 6 million jobs lost, and the unemployment rate could reach more than 11 percent. (U-3 unemployment U-6? Too scary to contemplate!)
  • Households will take a big hit. Real personal disposable income will drop almost 10 percent by 2015.Reduced U.S. Standard of Living
  • Manufacturers of consumer goods and defense contractors likely will see large and durable contractions in their industries.
  • It will take most of the decade for economic activity and employment levels to recover from the fiscal shock. Another recession could deal a substantial blow to long-term economic potential, permanently reducing living standards in the United States.

These eight points document why manufacturers are worried about slowing economic growth.

You know what to do…

If you think that Hurricane Sandy is the perfect storm, wait until you see what happens when sequestration cuts, other federal spending cuts, and layoffs  hit at the same time that U.S. taxpayers- investors, businesses, employees get hit by a sudden increase in tax liability.

Get the report.


The housing industry seems to be making slow but steady gains while manufacturing seems to be slowing.

Precision machining companies make components used in housing technologies like HVAC and appliances.

PMPA’s Business Trends Index for August is up 6 points to 117  from 111 in July, but shipments are at a level just 93% of same time last year. Our industry shows shipments up 4 % year to date. Our index is contrary to the Fed’s IP numbers for August.  The Fed reported that Industrial Production fell 1.2% in August after having risen  after having risen 0.5% in July.  We see demand as holding on and our shops report that they continue to “hold their own.”

Precision machining is holding its own

According to Chad Moutray at NAM, ” … the housing picture continues to show slow-but-steady gains, with increasing optimism in a sector that continues to have large hurdles. Housing starts rose 2.3 percent in August, with an annualized 750,000 new residential units being built. This continues an upward trajectory, particularly for single-family homes. Housing permits, while down somewhat for the month, remained more than 800,000, indicating that the housing market should continue to expand moving forward. Existing home sales were also higher, and homebuilder confidence rose to its highest level in more than six years.”

I see the return of housing, even at its current low rate, as a positive sign for our industry. Diversifying markets and mix is better than ‘live or die’ with a single market segment.  A varied diet is good for our personal health, and the industry will be healthier when the choices we have are more varied than only one or two markets to serve.

Right Skills Now will provide fast-track training for skilled manufacturing jobs- starting with  entry level precision machinists.

Right Skills Now for manufacturing

According to a Skills Gap study by the Manufacturing Institute, more than 80 percent of U.S. manufacturers can’t find qualified people for the nearly 600,000 skilled production jobs that are currently unfilled.

For American manufacturing to be successful, employers need machinists that have the right skills, and they need those skills now. That is the impetus for a new, fast-track education initiative called Right Skills Now.

The program is an accelerated, 16-week training course for operators of precision machining equipment. It provides classroom and hands-on shop experience to prepare students for immediate employment. It also allows individuals to earn college credit and national industry certifications.

One of the founders of Right Skills Now is Darlene Miller, CEO and owner of Permac Industries in Burnsville, Minn. She helped launch the training program for CNC machinists in her home state.  PMPA provides staff support to Ms. Miller’s PCJC work. Miles Free, Director of Industry Research and Technology helped develop an initial outline of the curriculum to assure relevance to today’s advanced manufacturing shops.

Darlene Miller Announces Right Skills Now At President's Job Council Listening and Action Session at Productivity Inc, in Minnesota

As a small business owner representing the manufacturing sector, Ms. Miller was asked to serve for two years on the President’s Council for Jobs and Competitiveness. The Jobs Council is comprised of citizens chosen to provide non-partisan advice to the President to help foster economic growth, competitiveness, innovation and job creation.

According to Ms. Miller, the first time she met with President Obama, she was asked to talk about the economy as it related to manufacturing and small business. “One of the things I said to the President was, ‘Not every student needs to go to college,’ she says.

“He had recently made a speech saying that every student should go to college. But he later agreed that while not all students must go to college, they do need some educational training beyond high school.

“I told him that in the precision machining industry, we have an urgent need for skilled people,” Ms. Miller continues. “We can’t afford to take just anyone off the street, provide some training and then put that person in a machining job.”

Despite the nation’s high unemployment rate, attracting workers with machining skills has been difficult for small manufacturers. “Because of the recession, we’re all strapped financially,” Ms. Miller explains. “We need people that have math skills. Our equipment is very high-tech, and our customers expect zero ppm performance so we can’t afford to hire someone that hasn’t had technical training.

“It is critical that new hires have the necessary math and safety skills to understand and operate the machines,” she adds. “There is so much more involved now than there was 10 years ago.”

Serving on the Jobs Council with Ms. Miller are some of the country’s top corporate leaders from GE, American Express and DuPont. After the council meeting with the President, the members were divided into sub-committees. Ms. Miller was asked to co-chair the High-tech Education Sub-committee with Intel’s CEO, Paul Otellini.

The group held meetings and brought in two of Minnesota’s technical schools—Dunwoody College of Technology and South Central College. The sub-committee was also able to elicit help from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM); the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS); and American College Testing (ACT), the company that developed the testing for applicants. The program has also received funding from the Joyce Foundation.

“To make this work, there had to be a partnership between the business community, the technical schools and organizations like NAM, NIMS and ACT,” Ms. Miller emphasizes.

This photo shows a small fraction of the almost 200 attendees for the launch of Right Skills Now.

To be eligible for the program, applicants have to pass the ACT test, which is geared towards the machining industry. If an individual doesn’t qualify for the program the first time, there are remedial classes available.

“Problem-solving is huge part of the curriculum,” Ms. Miller says. “There is a mix of both classroom learning and shop time. After sixteen weeks, the student will intern at a manufacturing company for eight weeks.

“That person can stay with the company and continue his or her education in a specific field,” she adds. Some go into programming, Swiss machining or advanced CNC skills.   Others may end up as operations managers, quality managers or even entrepreneurs.

“We intend to replicate Right Skills Now nationally,” Ms. Miller sums up. “It’s not just for CNC machinists. It can be used for nearly any job skill. The program is so well-defined and accredited, it can be tweaked very easily to train anyone from welders to healthcare technicians.”

Click this link for more information on Right Skills Now,

From Jay Timmons, President  and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), at President’s Council on Jobs and Effectiveness, Regulatory Reform Working Group, June 15, 2011:
“In a time of economic recovery where capital is scarce, every dollar diverted from productive use creates additional pressure to reduce labor costs. When the prices of commodities and other manufacturing inputs are increasing, as they are today, even more pressure builds to squeeze labor costs. In this environment, it is clear that unnecessary or cost-ineffective regulation dampens economic growth and will continue to hold down job creation. For some firms, this will be the final straw that destroys the whole business.”
Thank you Jay, our sentiments exactly.
PMPA is at this Regulatory Reform Subcommittee Meeting to assure attention is paid to the regulations that hamper our precision machining members’ ability to operate sensibly and sustainably.
Link to NAM Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and Competitiveness