Celebrities help draw attention to skilled worker shortage

The data is there; and now the issue gets backfrom from people like Jay Leno and John Ratzenberger

01/29/2009


There is a burgeoning movement to motivate students in America to consider careers in the unlikeliest of places %%MDASSML%% the factory floor.

Even in the face of job cuts amid the current economic turbulence, U.S. manufacturers have great concern about the growing shortage of young skilled labor needed to make products used in industries ranging from aerospace and medical devices to alternative energy and infrastructure improvements, according to industry experts.

Those heralding the cause include leading trade associations, regional economic development groups, TV personalities such as Jay Leno and John Ratzenberger, and even a teenage race car driver.

“Although there have been significant job losses in certain industries and regions, many areas of the country are clamoring for skilled employees,” said Mark Tomlinson, executive director and general manager for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. “In Texas, the oil and gas industry has created a thriving manufacturing community. Parts of the Southeast have seen tremendous growth in several segments.”

A recent poll conducted by sponsors of the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show revealed executives cited the lack of employee skills as a leading obstacle to growth.

“That supports what we’ve heard for a couple of years from leaders in the metal forming, fabricating and welding industries. They report their biggest challenge today is finding skilled workers, especially young people, who have the knowledge to handle the increasingly sophisticated tasks required in manufacturing,” said Jerry Shankel, president and CEO of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA). “For example, we are using laser light to cut metal now, and it requires a person proficient in math and science skills.”

The outreach to students and educators is taking two parallel tracks in response to the challenge. One dispels the negative image many have of factories as dark, dingy and dangerous, and such work as unfulfilling. The second highlights the chance to use fun, high-tech, computer skills and the opportunity to secure a career that pays well and offers advancement.

“Part of the problem is the media and Hollywood, who often portray manufacturing in a poor light, denigrating anyone who works with their hands,” said actor John Ratzenberger, star of the comedy “ Cheers ,” host of the factory-focused Travel Channel show “ John Ratzenberger’s Made in America ” and founder of the Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs Foundation (NBT) that encourages young people to consider careers in manufacturing.

“The manufacturing community must do a better job informing children that working in a factory is rewarding both personally and financially,” said Ratzenbeger. “It all starts with getting young people to take pride in tinkering and inspiring them to work with both their hands and their minds.”

Many agree with Ratzenberger. “The image of manufacturing is still very much misunderstood; people, particularly young people, believe that we have the manufacturing plants of the 1950s and ’60s,” Dr. G. Edward Hughes, president and CEO of Gateway Community and Technical College in Edgewood, Ky., recently said in a Cincinnati newspaper interview.

A report from the U.S. Department of Labor also noted, “Popular perceptions of manufacturing jobs as dark, dangerous and dirty are largely outdated as advanced robotics and other‘intelligent’ systems become pervasive throughout the manufacturing process.”

Combating this image and shining a spotlight on the career opportunities in manufacturing now represent missions of more and more organizations, whether these are grassroots or national efforts.

%%POINT%%who restore his prized autos.

%%POINT%%

%%POINT%%ps give the kids a tangible experience to make something they can be proud of and take home,” said Ratzenberger. “I can think of no enterprise more worthy than one devoted to inspiring the next generation of engineers, builders and manufacturers.”

%%POINT%%on to their students.

%%POINT%%e, and a “Be True to Your School” program tied to FMA magazine Practical Welding today that has Palmiter visiting schools accompanied by his race car, to talk about welding, racing and manufacturing. “It’s important that people my age realize there are opportunities inthe manufacturing field for them to pursue,” Palmiter said.  

“If parents and teachers don’t have personal experience in today’s manufacturing, they can’t guide their children with accurate opinions and information about manufacturing careers,” said Pat Lee, FMA public relations director and a member of the Rockford, IL, Chamber of Commerce Manufacturers Council. “That’s why our Council compiled a Web resource on manufacturing careers and provided it to the local high school district. The district then created a web page on its site that is visited regularly by both students and parents.”

FMA’s Shankel sees this movement is starting to change the nation’s mindset on manufacturing. “So many organizations now are committed to make this happen and we’re beginning to see results. Applications for our scholarships have reached record levels. Educators are paying attention. And, young people are flocking to manufacturing camps.





The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Maximize ROI with integrated control system approach; Microcontrollers vs. PLCs; Power quality; Accelerate and rewire IIoT; Traits for excellent engineers
HMI effectiveness; Distributed I/O; Engineers' Choice Award finalists; System Integrator advice; Inside Machines
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. As we know, PLCs aren’t the only option for making decisions in a control loop, but they are likely why you’re here.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Maximize ROI with integrated control system approach; Microcontrollers vs. PLCs; Power quality; Accelerate and rewire IIoT; Traits for excellent engineers
HMI effectiveness; Distributed I/O; Engineers' Choice Award finalists; System Integrator advice; Inside Machines
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. As we know, PLCs aren’t the only option for making decisions in a control loop, but they are likely why you’re here.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Maximize ROI with integrated control system approach; Microcontrollers vs. PLCs; Power quality; Accelerate and rewire IIoT; Traits for excellent engineers
HMI effectiveness; Distributed I/O; Engineers' Choice Award finalists; System Integrator advice; Inside Machines
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. As we know, PLCs aren’t the only option for making decisions in a control loop, but they are likely why you’re here.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me