NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons sat down with the staff of the Input, the NAM’s members-only morning newsletter for manufacturing executives, to discuss the NAM’s State of Manufacturing Tour, which began today in Colorado.
Let’s start with the basics. What’s the “NAM State of Manufacturing Tour”? Where are you headed?
It’s our annual roadshow to spotlight the state of our industry and the amazing opportunities in modern manufacturing. We have a workforce crisis, with 4.6 million jobs to fill over the next decade in the industry. So, we need to show people the high-tech, high-paying jobs that are available in manufacturing in order to inspire a new generation of young people to join us.
This year, we’ll be in Colorado, Texas (where I’ll deliver the NAM State of Manufacturing Address), Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina, Minnesota, California and Arizona. That’s eight states and 25 cities over two weeks.
What is the focus this year?
I think of it as the next frontier in manufacturing. In other words, as our Manufacturing Leadership Council likes to say, it’s Manufacturing 4.0. It’s the way technology like AI, augmented reality, robotics and 3-D printing is reshaping our industry and empowering people to do more. Manufacturing will always be about people—we aren’t afraid of the future. Indeed, manufacturers are building the future, and by leveraging cutting-edge technology, we can do more, do it more safely and bring more talented people into manufacturing.
We want to share this story as broadly as possible. It’s important. Young people need to hear it and see it. Their parents need to see it, too, as well as policymakers and the press. And this tour reaches out to all of these audiences and engages them in a powerful way.
The NAM has been doing this tour since 2015. What have you, personally, learned about manufacturers from this undertaking?
On these tours, I’ve met people who do so many amazing things—they’re building a better world, with safer cars, brand-new cures and more sustainable food. But what continues to impress me most is how much these people love their jobs. It’s something you really have to witness firsthand to appreciate and one of the reasons I know manufacturing will make a great home for so many young people.
Tell us about a favorite moment from the tour.
It’s honestly hard to choose. But here’s one: last year, we visited Social Imprints, a screen-printing company in San Francisco that hires individuals who were formerly incarcerated and gives them a second chance.
There I met Miguel, whose parents were allowed to come to the U.S. in 1989 from El Salvador because of political oppression. But there was a restriction on the number of their children they could bring here. Miguel and his brother, the youngest in the family, stayed behind with a grandparent but eventually set out to be reunited with the rest of their family. And after being beaten and kidnapped by drug lords in Mexico, they finally made it to the U.S. Now, years later, they are both productive members of society. His siblings are in the medical and manufacturing fields.
Miguel is an example of how immigrants have strengthened our country, and his story is also a stark reminder that we must finally fix our immigration system.
Can readers still sign up to go to a tour event?
Absolutely, yes. Visit CreatorsWanted.org for information on how to attend an event, watch a livestream or join the conversation on social media (#MFGTour19).