Industry Market Trends

New National Education Council to Shape Manufacturing Workforce

Nov 06, 2008

More than 25 education leaders from across the country have been named charter members of the first-ever education council focused on expanding and enhancing the manufacturing workforce.

Education priorities today rarely position manufacturing as a preferred career choice.

"Too few young people consider manufacturing careers and often are unaware of the skills needed in an advanced manufacturing environment," the United States Department of Labor has stated. "Similarly, the K-12 system neither adequately imparts the necessary skills nor educates students on manufacturing career opportunities."

To that end, The Manufacturing Institute, the research, education and workforce arm of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), has launched the first-ever Education Council focused on expanding and enhancing the manufacturing workforce.

The new Education Council, which held its inaugural meeting in Washington, D.C. last week, will focus on such wide-ranging issues as the identification of solutions to address adult illiteracy, the design of regional manufacturing talent development systems, the creation of 21st century career and technical education programs and the advancement of innovation in the manufacturing economy, according to Emily DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute and former U.S. assistant secretary of labor for employment and training.

"As international competition intensifies, U.S. manufacturers are having a difficult time finding qualified people to replace the retiring baby boom generation in increasingly sophisticated, high-tech jobs. The skills shortages are having a widespread impact on the ability of manufacturers to achieve production levels, increase productivity and meet customer demands," DeRocco said in a statement.

"With more highly skilled and qualified people, manufacturers could create more jobs with family-sustaining wages," she said.

The work of the Education Council is part of a broad strategic agenda to recruit, educate and employ the 21st century manufacturing workforce.

Representing K-12, community and technical colleges and four-year colleges and universities, the educators and officials were tapped by The Manufacturing Institute to assist in developing national strategies to keep the American manufacturing workforce globally competitive and create more high-paying jobs. The Manufacturing Institute is the research, education and workforce arm of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

Charter members of the Education Council include education leaders from Virginia Tech, Tuskegee University, Pennsylvania State University, the College of Charleston, the State Dept. of Education and more than 20 others.

In an open letter to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama this week, NAM President John Engler wrote, "Our economy is driven by innovation, and the American system of education must prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete globally."

America needs to be a beacon of career and technical education development, Engler stated, and our schools must place a greater emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, "attracting the best and brightest to the greatest land of opportunity the world has ever known."

Students don't go looking for manufacturing jobs today. If the manufacturing economy is to continue to thrive, schools, manufacturers and industry-focused organizations need to reach out and help talented people realize the opportunities manufacturing has to offer to millions of Americans.

"The Education Council will help shape major education and workforce development initiatives to close the skills gap, help young people and transitioning workers find new careers in the manufacturing economy and ensure that U.S. manufacturers can continue to lead the world in innovation and productivity," DeRocco concluded.


Education Council

The Manufacturing Institute/NAM, Oct. 28, 2008

A Letter to President-Elect Obama: Working Together for American Jobs and a Stronger Economy

NAM, Nov. 5, 2008

Innovative Workforce Solutions to Help the Advanced Manufacturing Industry Address Hiring, Training and Retention Challenges

U.S. Dept. of Labor