Get attention in a nanosecond

It's past time for manufacturing to become the squeaky wheel and get more grease. Be an advocate for manufacturing and encourage discussion of pro-manufacturing policies among coworkers, family, and other friends. Why? Because elapsed time between heated water-cooler discussions and getting U.S. politicians' attention is about a nanosecond, according to Patrick J.

By Mark T. Hoske, Editor-in-Chief May 1, 2004

It’s past time for manufacturing to become the squeaky wheel and get more grease. Be an advocate for manufacturing and encourage discussion of pro-manufacturing policies among coworkers, family, and other friends. Why? Because elapsed time between heated water-cooler discussions and getting U.S. politicians’ attention is about a nanosecond, according to Patrick J. Cleary, senior vice president, public and external affairs, National Association of Manufacturers.

It’s easier to lay blame than do something about upgrading the business environment to further expand U.S. manufacturing and the wealth and prosperity that go with it, according to many at the April 5 “Manufacturing Tomorrow” conference in Minneapolis. More than 400 attended, including Cleary, other industry group representatives, manufacturers, state and federal politicians, as well as U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans. As politicians argued, manufacturers and their organizations beckoned for legislative help that would help promote: pro-growth tax policies; less-burdensome regulation; fewer frivolous lawsuits; lower health-care costs; more open international markets, and lower-cost energy.

Tell those you know about the value of manufacturing. U.S. manufacturing is larger than entire nations, larger than the economies of Canada and Mexico combined, or France, or even China. U.S. manufacturing accounts for three quarters of all exports. While U.S. agriculture exports $50 billion in products a year, manufacturing exports $50 billion monthly. Manufacturing employs 16 million people and is responsible for two-thirds of all research and development. One-sixth of the U.S. gross domestic product is manufacturing, Cleary says—larger than retail; transportation and utilities; or construction, mining, and agriculture.

At current projections, the U.S. will have a critical shortage of skilled manufacturing workers by 2020, says Leo Reddy, founder and CEO of the National Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing and industry manager of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council. Twelve of 15 of the most rapidly growing occupations, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2004, were in low-wage low-skill occupations, Reddy says. He adds that 80% of manufacturers polled report a shortage of qualified workers; 78% also cite failure of education and training systems. In the next 10 years, 60% of all jobs will require skills held by just 20% of the present workforce.

For more on these topics, read this online at www.controleng.com under “Archive,” May 2004.

MHoske@cfemedia.com

Online Extra

Be an advocate for U.S.-based advanced manufacturing

As a Control Engineering subscriber and/or online reader, you’re already active in keeping up your skills and staying relevant in the workplace. Please ensure that in your interactions with others that you continue to advocate for a better climate for advanced manufacturing technologies. In doing so, you’ll encourage others to consider a future in control engineering, and a future for all U.S. manufacturing, especially high-value advanced manufacturing.

A March 22, 2004, Business Week article addressed the topic. It was titled, “The Future of Work: Flexible, creative, and good with people? You should do fine in tomorrow’s job market.” The article further states, “There’s still plenty of demand in the U.S. for people who combine technical skills with industry-specific knowledge and people skills…. Still, there’s no reason that automation and globalization have to create an underclass.”

Indeed, I’d say it’s the intelligent and pervasive application of technologies to ever-more streamlined processes that will keep U.S. manufacturing productivity far enough ahead to make it more profitable to retain plants here than outsource abroad.

Here are links to recent additional stories on related topics.

  • MN manufacturers unite; politicians debate aid at conference

  • Skills certification program, strategy report launched at MN meeting

  • Statistics support manufacturing, bills could help

  • U.S. manufacturing expansions, positive outlooks

  • New manufacturing orders, production, employment grow

  • NAM urges advocating for U.S. manufacturing