Viewpoints: Shaping the Future of Manufacturing in America
By Carlos Cardoso
President and CEO, Kennametal Chairman
Web site: www.kennametal.com
On Twitter @CarlosMCardoso
This is an exciting time to be in manufacturing! Our industry is leading the economic recovery and all of us should feel proud to be a part of this sustaining force. As I travel across the country, I take every opportunity to promote our successes in the manufacturing sector and share the many examples I hear about that companies are taking to advance manufacturing in the US.
However, despite these positive stories, I continue to encounter many that contradict the truth about manufacturing.
Despite the fact that manufacturing is leading growth in this country and there are nearly 600,000 manufacturing jobs currently available in the US at this very moment, the majority of the American public believes differently. Kennametal recently commissioned a survey to gauge the American public’s view of manufacturing, which confirmed only 11% believe the manufacturing sector is growing; just 17% think manufacturing has a positive outlook in the future and 68% believe the lack of manufacturing jobs is more significant than the lack of training required to fill those jobs.
We in the manufacturing field know the opposite to be true and we are experiencing it every day. The results from the November 2011 Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) forecast predicted manufacturing production will outpace the overall economy and grow 3.4% this year, adding 170,000 jobs along the way.
The Manufacturing Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers estimate nearly 2.7 million manufacturing workers will retire in the next decade and demand for skilled labor will increase. Many of these jobs will go unfilled because workers lack the skills to perform these jobs.
As manufacturers, we have a responsibility to reintroduce our industry to the American people and educate them about the viable career opportunities in this field. Additionally, we need to find innovative ways to build the workforce of tomorrow.
At Kennametal we strive to do our part to deliver the promise of manufacturing by promoting and articulating the availability of well-paying, highly skilled manufacturing careers through our many educational programs across the globe.
Most recently we embarked on a new educational initiative called the Young Engineers Program which gives local high school students near our Latrobe, PA, headquarters an opportunity to experience what a career in manufacturing entails. By participating in a 15-week program that includes classroom discussion and projects led by a team of Kennametal "Innovators" drawn from numerous departments, students are given an opportunity to learn what manufacturing is really all about in hopes they will choose engineering or manufacturing as a career path.
It is more than just providing the opportunities though, it is also about outreach to our communities and our educational institutions. Manufacturers need to do their part to promote math and science earlier in our school systems, encourage attendance in technical programs, partner with our schools at the elementary and middle school levels and educate guidance counselors about manufacturing career opportunities.
When manufacturing thrives, it enables the middle class to grow and we cannot have a sustainable economy without a strong middle class. This means we also need policies that support it.
Manufacturing is alive and well in this country and it is imperative that policy makers and manufacturers partner together to develop policies that help promote manufacturing, strengthen the middle class, develop the necessary skilled workforce of the future and make America competitive in the global marketplace.
As manufacturers, I hope you will join me in sharing your success stories and the innovative solutions you have for building the workforce of tomorrow. It is imperative we transform the image of U.S. manufacturing by increasing awareness and reminding this country that manufacturing is an integral part of our past, our present and our future.
Together, we have the power to drive solutions and rebuild confidence in the manufacturing industry. I hope you will join the conversation. ME
This article was first published in the April 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.