Today, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons congratulated the 2016 STEP Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leaders at the 2016 STEP Ahead lunch. Read his remarks below!
Thank you, Cheryln, for that introduction. And thanks to Alcoa for your support of STEP and The Manufacturing Institute’s work to strengthen the manufacturing workforce.
It’s a pleasure to welcome all of you to Washington and to STEP Ahead.
This is one of my favorite annual celebrations of our industry, without question, and I want to congratulate each and every one of our Honorees and Emerging Leaders.
In the middle of a political season that’s been divisive and frustrating, it’s refreshing to be in a room full of inspiring people…leaders dedicated to getting things done…who see beyond a problem to achieve real-world solutions.
You are trailblazers, innovators and leaders. You are ambassadors for manufacturing in your communities, inspiring the next generation. And you are building the future.
Modern manufacturing is changing lives and changing the world. From 3-D printing and nanotechnology to sustainable agriculture and lifesaving medicines and beyond…manufacturers in the United States are driving an innovation revolution.
Billions of everyday objects are now connected via the web, changing not only what we make but how we make it. First it was our phones and our watches. Soon it will be everything from our contact lenses to autonomous automobiles and transcontinental pipelines. And the digitally integrated factory itself is becoming more productive, less wasteful and safer than ever before.
As manufacturers, you are part of something big—the backbone of our economy and our country.
When manufacturing succeeds, America succeeds. Manufacturing creates opportunity and strengthens communities. We add more than $2 trillion annually to the U.S. economy. We employ more than 12 million men and women—and support another 6 million jobs along the way. And for every dollar invested in manufacturing, another $1.40 in economic benefit is created.
Of course, we face our share of challenges…unavoidable headwinds, such as global economic weakness and worldwide instability. While this will be slow to change, our leaders right here in our own country have at this moment the power to fix other self-imposed barriers to opportunity and success.
They can fix policies in Washington that imperil our promise. These barriers exist because Washington hasn’t yet summoned the will to change them. And because “We The People,” in some ways, haven’t done enough to fight for manufacturing as essential to American Exceptionalism and our future.
That’s why the NAM’s work matters. That’s why your voices as manufacturers matter. I know you’ve just come from Capitol Hill. It’s so important that we speak up for the policies that will help our industry grow and thrive…and help you succeed.
That includes everything from tax, regulatory and legal reform to improvements in our approach to health care, infrastructure and trade.
Earlier this year, in fact, the NAM laid out a comprehensive agenda, called “Competing to Win,” that makes it very clear to our elected leaders which policies they should support if they truly support manufacturing.
All of our policy goals are rooted in the the foundational principles of the country we love, the first of which is free enterprise: powerful market forces that drive innovation and growth better than any system in history.
The second is competitiveness: our ability to expand markets and succeed in the global economy.
The third is individual liberty: the creativity and entrepreneurship unleashed by protecting, defending and advancing the basic freedoms enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
And the fourth, equal opportunity: our shared belief that every one of us has the potential to contribute to the success of our companies, our communities and our country.
These are the values that make and keep America exceptional—and they are the values that should guide our leaders.
One of our most urgent causes, of course, is what brings us together today: building a bigger and more diverse manufacturing workforce.
Over the next decade, studies show manufacturers will have 3.5 million jobs to fill…but 2 million of them will remain empty…unless we do something now.
Together we must encourage the public, especially young people, to view our industry as more than the gritty factories of the past…by showing them the diverse and challenging career opportunities we offer.
And we must expand access to education, training and credentialing—especially in the STEM fields—which students will need to succeed as dreamers, makers and doers.
As we pursue these initiatives, we must make clear that manufacturers’ doors are wide open to women of all backgrounds and capabilities—from computer science to marketing. Generations fought for their rightful places on the shop floor and in the science lab…on the engineering team and in the C-suite. Looking at a roomful like this, it could be tempting to declare victory.
But here’s the reality, and we all know it: women are still underrepresented in manufacturing. And that means lost opportunity for workers and families and for manufacturers of all sizes and sectors.
That’s why your example matters so much.
You know, things are different when you have children. I have two daughters, C.J. and Ellie, and they have deepened my commitment to ensuring that today’s girls are given every chance to shape their own tomorrows.
So I am glad to be a part of an organization, the NAM, where empowerment is central to our mission. I’m proud to work with the Institute and Jennifer McNelly. And I am pleased to have this moment to honor all of you.
But in closing, I also want to ask something of you. Please, keep sharing your stories, your insights and your enthusiasm for manufacturing—whether it’s on Capitol Hill or in your hometown.
Only with more voices like yours, raised in unison with your colleagues, will we conquer political negativity, embrace opportunity and unleash the potential of this generation…and the next.
Again, thank you for all that you do. And congratulations.