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The Bright Future for Veterans

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By David Johnston, manufacturing manager metal supply at Arconic

Every day, thousands of veterans retire from the military, struggling to match their passion with their next career move. Many don’t fully recognize that the skills they’ve honed, the experiences they’ve had and the values they’ve lived during their service are those that can translate extremely well to manufacturing careers. Smart hiring managers are the ones that commit time and resources to hiring and advancing veterans in the workplace because they recognize the unique assets we veterans offer.

While we know firsthand what our military brothers and sisters are capable of and how valuable their insights are, helping America’s military veterans transition into manufacturing is easier said than done. By working together throughout the manufacturing supply chain to develop a strong network of veteran ambassadors who can lead the charge, we can make a compelling case that attracts the best and brightest veteran talent to a wide range of manufacturing jobs.

As veteran ambassadors, we each play a critical role that positively impacts the lives of other veterans. Today, The Manufacturing Institute and Arconic Foundation released a video that highlights the value veterans bring to the manufacturing workforce and encourages veterans to explore the career options available in manufacturing. The video shows a real, tangible example of Arconic’s veterans resource group at work, helping our employees adjust to civilian life, and ultimately, finding a home at Arconic.

At Arconic, we are committed to helping veterans prepare for success in their civilian careers; we are present across the United States at military recruiting fairs and transitioning summits; we direct support to military spouses; make available community volunteering opportunities that extend veterans’ service into their communities; and engage newly hired vets in special onboarding experiences. Our aim is to make the best possible use of their skills and create an environment of inclusivity. The company supports an employee resource group (ERG) for veterans and non-veteran allies at our locations around the world. In military terms, the veterans ERG is a “force multiplier” for Arconic.

Leadership. Team deployment. Project management. Supply chain expertise. Technical and engineering skills. Loyalty. Goal orientation. These are just some of the skills that are unique to veterans and highly valuable in today’s advanced manufacturing environment. With the right support and knowledge of what veterans bring to the table, American manufacturing stands to gain so much from these individuals in their post-military careers.

Boots Are Boots

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By Diane Wilhelm, chief engineer advanced manufacturing, Harley-Davidson Motor Company 

As a West Point grad in the early years of integrating women and serving in the U.S. Army for 12 years, I often reflect on my military roots and the foundation that the military has provided me for success in my manufacturing career. My transition from Army boots to steel-toe boots was not without challenges.

As young Lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry Division, I was elated to have the opportunity for my platoon to support one of the combat brigades in an upcoming FTX (Field Training Exercise). I reported to the prep meeting and realized that I was the only female in the room. Halfway through the meeting, the colonel noticed me, stopped the meeting and asked why I was there. I responded, “I am your military police support, sir.” He shook his head negatively. Everyone in the room stared at me, but I stayed, and they continued the meeting.

Afterward, I waited until most had left and approached the colonel. I told him that I had the best platoon in the company and that we would not fail him. I told him that if he didn’t agree that I and my platoon were the best, I’d never again set foot in his area. I asked for him to give me a shot, unless he was concerned about a female making other men look bad. He stared at me for a long time before answering, “Lieutenant, you’re in.” From that moment on, my platoon shined and he asked for me by name.

For women in nontraditional career fields, I sum this up into one mantra: “show no fear!”

As a new maintenance engineer/supervisor for a major automotive company, I noticed a large, colored paper sticking out from underneath a stack of newspapers when I entered the pipefitter’s break area. Making small talk, I purposely picked up the newspaper exposing the large paper that had 30 blocks drawn on it, almost all of them colored in with red or blue; some had both. The men fell silent. I picked up the colored paper and asked, “What is this?” After a lengthy pause, the millwright replied, “It’s a pool.” “About what?” I probed. The men started to squirm. The same millwright answered, “It’s a pool about you. Blue indicates when you will cry, and red is when you will quit.” I was stunned! The tradesmen all stared at me. I looked back at the paper and realized that my peer supervisors had bought blocks, too.

I had a choice. I took out my wallet and said, “How much to get in?” He answered “5 bucks.” I gave him 10 and told him to mark me down for NEVER on both! I won, of course, and donated the money to the department holiday meal fund.

You cannot always choose your circumstances, but you can always choose your attitude. #ShowNoFear #BootsAreBoots

Why Hiring Veterans Could Solve the Skills Gap

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By John Buckley, manager of military relations at Koch Industries

I served more than 30 years in the Army, with tours of duty from Bosnia to Iraq. But perhaps my biggest test of all came when I returned home: transitioning to the private sector.

Millions of veteran service members face the same challenge every day, with another million troops returning to the private sector over the next five years. It is also a tremendous opportunity—both for those who honorably served and for a grateful nation. As the manager of military relations for Koch Industries—one of the largest manufacturers in the United States—I see firsthand the value of recruiting and retaining employees who have served.

Almost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade, but the vast skills gap means that roughly 2 million of these positions will stay vacant, according to a study from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. These open roles mean decreased productivity, lower earnings and a reduced GDP, as well as less innovation and flourishing in society.

Companies and entire industries are losing embedded institutional knowledge as an entire generation retires. As technical education offerings decline in public schools, we may have new workers who may lack the skills necessary to do these jobs.

But there’s hope. It is no coincidence that employers of military veterans, including Koch, have found that the traits that define the men and women who served our nation—character, dedication, perseverance and courage—match those of our most successful employees.

At Koch, we educate both business leaders—on understanding military culture and its applications in our daily business—and employed veterans—on how to recruit more quality talent. We recognize that only about 7 percent of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. As such, we take great care to bridge the gap between employees with different experiences and skill sets. We hold a monthly Skype session with veterans, and our military careers website features helpful tips on searching for jobs, writing a resume and preparing for interviews. Our website devotes a section to veteran recruiting, including a guide to managing the transition to civilian life. The results are undeniable: For the past two years, we have increased our protected veteran hires by an average of 30 percent each year, and Koch has received six awards from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense program, for providing a supportive workplace for employees who served.

Adaptable, accountable and focused on compliance, veterans have years of skills, knowledge and leadership under their belt—important assets for any line of work, but especially manufacturing. When we hire veterans at Koch, we know that we are getting individuals with a proven track record of making their team—and their country—even better.

John Buckley is manager of military relations at Koch Industries. He is a retired U.S. Army colonel who commanded soldiers in combat and peacekeeping operations and contributed to the strategic and operational planning of multiple operations. 

The Workforce of Tomorrow

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The incoming Trump administration has placed a high value on the need to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. With more than 12 million manufacturing workers in the United States, accounting for 9 percent of the workforce, it is clear to see why. These jobs are the backbone of our economy.

However, to keep jobs in the United States, we must address the fundamental reality that there is a skills gap in manufacturing that is widening each year: the skills workers have are not always the skills that are in demand. Current projections forecast nearly 2 million jobs will remain unfilled over the next 10 years due to the skills gap. Read More

Timmons on Puzder: “Trump Has Served Up One of the Best Leaders on the Menu”

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National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons issued the following statement on the nomination of businessman Andy Puzder as secretary of labor:

“President-elect Donald Trump has served up one of the best leaders on the menu for secretary of labor. Andy Puzder is an insightful businessman who knows what it takes to create jobs and put Americans to work.

“No one knows better than Mr. Puzder that the Obama administration’s workplace rules haven’t just harmed manufacturers and entrepreneurs in America, but have also cost people work and families paychecks. Manufacturers have fought for change and laid out solutions in our “Competing to Win” agenda for labor laws and workplace regulations that reflect the dynamics of modern manufacturing. We’re confident President-elect Trump and Mr. Puzder know the recipe necessary to make America more competitive to create jobs and lift up all Americans.”

CONTACT: Jennifer Drogus, (202) 637-3090

“The Room Where It Happens”?

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The Senate HELP Committee cancelled a mark-up of the Senate version of Perkins CTE reauthorization this week. Perhaps negotiations are ongoing and a bipartisan agreement will emerge, but the window for action is quickly closing.

Manufacturers have advanced key issues in the 114th Congress, even during a time when some of the most contentious factions exist within the House of Representatives. Earlier this month, the House compromised to approve (405-5) similar legislation that the Senate is struggling to agree on during this compressed September schedule. This is a program in need of positive change, and legislating does not need to be this challenging.

The Senate needs to put its differences aside and work together to get Perkins done. If the Senate does not put skin in the game soon, it may well be game over for Perkins CTE reauthorization in this congressional round—leaving the next Congress to start from square one. So much work has been accomplished to get to this point, it would be unfortunate to jettison this important effort that supports the next generation of manufacturing workers.

Manufacturers are actively working on solutions to close a skills gap that is hindering productivity and the overall ability for American manufacturers to be more innovative and competitive in the global market. They continue to engage on a local level to communicate the skills they are looking for. They are partnering with educational institutions to develop programs and working with local governments to drive the change needed to remedy the skills gap. Without an updated Perkins—which reflects the needs of the modern employer—they lose their competitive edge.

“When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game. But you dont get a win unless you play in the game. Oh, you get love for it, you get hate for it. You get nothing if you wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…”  Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

NAM Supports Perkins Reauthorization

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Tomorrow, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will be considering H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, sponsored by Reps. G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), which reauthorizes the Perkins Act. The NAM urges swift passage of this legislation and is looking forward to consideration by the full House of Representatives.

Manufacturers are looking to aggressively pursue policies that will help maintain and strengthen the future of America’s manufacturing base. The NAM supports efforts to educate and train the next generation on the manufacturing workforce through efforts such as promotion of career and technical education through the reauthorization of the Perkins Act.

The legislation improves employer engagement in the workforce development and training system by aligning the definitions and functions of the program to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, reducing the bureaucracy that can often hinder employer engagement. In addition, it places significant emphasis on industry-recognized credentials, focuses on jobs in demand in a given geographic area and promotes work-based learning.

The NAM is pleased to see that this legislation allows funds authorized under the Perkins Act to be used to purchase manufacturing equipment and pay for certification exams upon completion of training. These recommended changes to existing law are a significant improvement that will allow for more advanced and aligned training for the manufacturing sector.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act is a significant step toward allowing manufacturers to improve engagement in the workforce development system, and the NAM urges the committee to support the bill and pass this important piece of legislation.

 

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