Day Two here in Houston at the Reinvesting in American Manufacturing conference where the opening topic, “The Great Labor Debate,” sparked no debate at all. Some experts insist that the U.S. has plenty of available and highly trained labor. The counterpoint insists that one of the greatest threats to the resurgence of manufacturing in America is the shortage of high-skilled workers. The counterpoint won hands down at this manufacturing conference, where the skills gap and its impact on global competitiveness and investment decisions is a top concern.
Today’s opening panel featured NAM Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Policy Aric Newhouse along with Schneider National, Inc. President & CEO Christopher Lofgren and National Association of Development Organizations Director of Economic Development Brian Kelsey. All agreed that it will take much more public/private collaboration between industry, academia and other stakeholders to produce the skilled workforce that America needs for advanced manufacturing. The Manufacturing Institute is a leader on that front.
Later in the day, the “Women in Manufacturing” panel highlighted how one obvious source of human capital – women — has not been fully tapped by the manufacturing industry. Three outstanding women leaders in manufacturing spoke about their experiences, why hiring and advancing women is smart business and strategies for getting girls motivated and prepared for careers in manufacturing.
Many thanks to our NAM members on the panel: Toyota Motor North America’s Latondra Newton, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer; Alcoa’s Natalie Schilling, Vice President, Corporate Human Resources & Chief Talent Officer; and GE Transportation’s Tina Donikowski, Vice President, Locomotive/Marine, Stationary Power & Drill/Energy Storage.