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A Wise Move To Change The Current Trend of The American Industry
National Association of Manufacturers

At a standing-room-only event at the National Press Club this spring, the National Association of Manufacturers announced the formal launch of its Careers Campaign with the avowed goal of making manufacturing careers a top choice by the end of the decade. A white paper, “Keeping America Competitive: A Talent Shortage Threatens U.S. Manufacturing” was released. The paper, based on extensive new research and in partnership with Deloitte & Touche and The Manufacturing Institute, is a sobering look at attitudes on manufacturing and the careers it offers.  

What we found through a series of focus groups and interviews was disturbing.  A long-term manufacturing employment and skills crisis is developing with ominous implications for the economy and national security.  A survey conducted by the Center for Workforce Success shows that the loss nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs during the recent recession masks a looming shortage of highly skilled, technically competent employees who can fully exploit the potential of new technologies and support increased product complexity.  

Many factors shaping tomorrow’s manufacturing are beyond our control and will not change in the foreseeable future:  global pressures, the relentless advances in technology and demographic shifts in an aging society.  What manufacturers and public educational institutions can and must do is change the attitudes of students, parents, educators, business leaders and policy makers about the contribution of U.S. manufacturing to our economy and the value and desirability of manufacturing careers to our future workforce. 

Through our research, we learned that: 

·     American youth are universally “turned off” to working in modern manufacturing, which they often view as dark, dirty dead-end and dull.  With near unanimity, respondents across the country saw manufacturing jobs to be in stark conflict with the characteristics they desire in their careers—and as a result, they do not plan to pursue industrial careers. 

·    Of even more concern was the response from adults that the American people “just have no idea” of manufacturing’s contribution to the overall growth and health of the economy.  Instead, they see it as an industry that is unstable and in decline. 

  • Our education system is a weak link for the future of manufacturing careers.  The research emphatically shows that the U.S. educational system exacerbates the negative perception of manufacturing because it is largely out of step with the career opportunities emerging for young people in today’s economy, including manufacturing.  The data shows that more than half of all college students drop out.  Our educational system fails to engage them and help them enter alternative post-high school programs where they would be successful.  For those who do graduate, one—third fail to find employment requiring a four-year degree.  Meanwhile, many of the well-paid and rapidly increasing jobs remain unfilled, including those requiring two- and four-year technical degrees or short-term skill certificates.

Fortunately, all the news is not bad because the reality of manufacturing is vastly different from its image.  Today’s manufacturing company is a major source of high-tech innovation, wealth creation and exciting and varied long-term careers.  This real world is what we must show to students, their parents, their educators and public policy makers. 

To remain strong and continue to thrive in a highly competitive environment, U.S. manufacturing must surmount many challenges.  NAM’s public agenda is clear about this, as it has launched the Strategy for Growth and Manufacturing Renewal.  High on the list of challenges in trade, tax and regulatory policies needed to bolster U.S. manufacturing is the challenge of attracting a new generation of manufacturing employees prepared for 21st century jobs. 

Continued below...



With these themes in mind, NAM President Jerry Jasinowski has called on the President, Congress, and his manufacturing members and educators to do their respective parts: 

  • To President Bush: Announce to the nation that manufacturing is a high priority and direct his Administration to pursue policies that will enhance the future of manufacturing;

  • To Congress: Establish a National Manufacturing Day and pass the policies necessary to bolster a strong manufacturing sector;

  • To educators: Take your students to a modern manufacturing plant on National Manufacturing Day each year and provide accurate career information; and

  • To NAM members: Open your doors to students and teachers on National Manufacturing Day so they can see the excitement and great opportunities of making things in America.

“We will not be daunted by this challenge,” NAM President Jerry Jasinowski said.  “Without economic growth and a robust manufacturing sector, we will not need a new generation of skilled workers.  Without a skilled and educated workforce, we cannot sustain that growth.  Can we afford to do this?  The only question is:  Can we afford not to?”

A message from The National Association of Manufacturers <NAM.org>



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This page last updated on

08/01/08 17:30











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