Manufacturing: Not a Hobbesian World

By December 3, 2006Manufacturing Institute

Kudos to The Manufacturer, the British-based publisher that highlighted the skills gap on the cover of its latest U.S. magazine. The headline is stark — Dirty, dark, dangerous and dull — but its starkness captures the image problem that manufacturers often encounter. In attempting to attract a new generation of highly skilled and motivated employees, manufacturers in the United States start with a disadvantage: History and popular culture work to cast manufacturing as “uncool.”

Leo Reddy of the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council carries the case for manufacturing in the story, noting the Manufacturing Institute’s “Dream It. Do It.” campaign that promotes the rewarding, challenging nature of modern, high-tech manufacturing, while encouraging the development of the necessary skills for young employees to succeed in the constantly changing workplace.

And there’s a nice plug for MSSC’s (and NAM-endorsed) credentializing program for qualified manufacturing production workers.

Finally, our boss, NAM President John Engler, frames the case in real-world terms for the next generation of workplace talent:

“Our best students, I think, can compete against anybody anywhere, anytime,” he says, but he does observe a lack of forethought.

“You’ve got somebody who goes to college and is not clear why they’re going, gets maybe a poly-sci degree, and comes out and says ‘OK, here I am, world,’ and [the world asks] ‘what can you do?’ The next think you know they’re part of that 20 percent of the student body in an average community with a four-year degree,” returning to college. “Why are they there? They’re getting skills training. They’re learning a specific kind of career. The tragedy is they didn’t do that earlier. They could have been working while going to school, not be mired down in debt, perhaps by student loans, and maybe be highly focused on what they wanted to get out of college.”

Thorough, balanced and accurate article from The Manufacturer. Much appreciated.

UPDATE: The Examiner interviews Riley Bechtel, chairman and CEO of the Bechtel Group:

One key concern for our engineering and construction business is availability of the craft workforce that we need for our projects. The problem is growing throughout the US and particularly acute in some regions, such as the Gulf Coast.