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Wanted: Skilled Manufacturing Workforce

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DEARBORN, Mich., June 7, 2011 — Even as the most recent reports show a slight rise in unemployment, manufacturers are facing an unusual situation: the inability to find qualified workers.

And while this is a concern today, it will reach crisis level in coming years.

"As the economy recovers and manufacturing continues to gain momentum and strength, finding skilled and educated workers will be the biggest issue for employers in the immediate future and possibly for years to come," said Mark Tomlinson, executive director/CEO for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) — a leader in manufacturing workforce development. The concern over the skilled worker issue was cited by many presenters at the SME Annual Conference this week in Bellevue, Wash.

The reason: manufacturing has evolved from the labor-heavy, smokestack-spewing industry of the 20th century to an advanced manufacturing industry reliant on knowledge workers with high technical skills who are more apt to work in a clean room on high-tech equipment than in a Henry Ford-esque factory.

With the looming retirement of 76 million baby boomers, declining graduations from engineering and technical schools, and a lack of interest in science, technology, engineering and science courses (STEM) in middle and high schools, today’s difficulty in finding qualified workers is on course to become a national economic and security crisis.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers is working with partners in industry, education and government to help prevent this impending calamity.

SME builds the skills of the incumbent worker with its rich resources of manufacturing knowledge, professional certifications, on-line and in-person training and events, and member-to-member interaction.

SME also supports competency-based education that is validated by assessments and industry standards through programs such as the NAM-Endorsed Skills Certification System.

Through its Education Foundation, SME is inspiring and engaging K-12 students in the STEM subjects in order to build the pipeline of skilled workers for the future.

"The goal is to provide educated, skilled workers to fill manufacturing jobs — middle-class jobs that can support a family."

Manufacturing Experts Available for Interviews


MARK C. TOMLINSON, CMfgE, EMCP
Executive Director/CEO
Society of Manufacturing Engineers

With more than 30 years in manufacturing, Mark Tomlinson is passionate about the importance of making things and the impact it has on the nation’s economy and security. He has talked about manufacturing workforce issues, manufacturing trends, and manufacturing technology to national audiences, and has been interviewed by media such as MSNBC, WSJ Radio, PBS Nightly Business Report, the Associated Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and more.

BART A. ASLIN
Chief Executive Officer
SME Education Foundation

Bart Aslin works fervently to change the image of manufacturing and the careers it offers in the minds of k-12 students, parents and teachers. He is dedicated to engaging the nation’s youth in the marvels of science, technology, manufacturing and science in order to fill the pipeline to meet the future demands for a skilled workforce.

JEANNINE KUNZ
Director of Professional Development
Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Jeannine Kunz is committed to train, re-train and up-train the incumbent manufacturing worker to ensure they have the skills necessary for today’s manufacturing jobs. She understands the need for individuals to gain knowledge for career advancement and has helped Fortune 500 companies implement comprehensive training programs that integrate the varied learning styles of their employees.

PAMELA HURT
Manager of Workforce Development
Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Pam Hurt builds partnerships with industry, education and government to provide solutions for the impending workforce crisis. Working with the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy and Labor, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute and other organizations, she is responsible for the connectivity between interested parties to build and support a skilled workforce for the jobs of the future.


About SME:
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is the premier source for manufacturing knowledge, education and networking. Through its many programs, events, magazines, publications and online training division, Tooling U, SME connects manufacturing practitioners to each other, to the latest technologies and to the most up-to-date manufacturing processes. SME has members around the world and is supported by a network of chapters and technical communities. A 501(c)3 organization, SME is a leader in manufacturing workforce development issues, working with industry, academic and government partners to support the current and future skilled workforce.

Note to Media:
Visit the SME Media Center for the latest Society news, one-stop access to SME Events, Manufacturing Quicklinks, SME social media sites, SME News Feed and more.

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If you have questions about the press release or need additional information, please contact SME Public Relations at communications@sme.org.