May Message from EACC Board President
EACC Board President
The manufacturing industry is in the process of a significant shift in the U.S. economy, and is even becoming a central theme of the 2012 Presidential election.
There are currently fewer people employed in the manufacturing than there were 60 years ago. For perspective, 9% of today’s labor force is composed of manufacturing jobs, but in 1950, nearly 30% of the U.S. work force was employed in the manufacturing industry. This trend, coupled with the rise of emerging markets in Asia and India, gives many of us the impression that manufacturing will soon become nonexistent in the United States. On the other hand, productivity has increased exponentially, which is shown by the increase in production. Fewer jobs are needed but the value of these positions has increased. There are very few unskilled manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and Europe. That being said, in order to serve the current and future needs of the manufacturing economy, it is essential that our workforce adapts to these changes.
While the education system has begun to focus on the technological aspect of this industry, skilled trades still reside at the core of manufacturing. For example, the equipment that my company, HAHN Automation, designs and builds requires highly trained maintenance technicians to keep it running efficiently. In my industry, we see a declining pool of qualified candidates, despite the growing need for such employees. Unfortunately, vocational school is no longer held in high esteem in this country and the pressure to make a profit makes it difficult to spend time training new employees once they are hired. This emphasizes the fact that trade skills are essential upon beginning a career in the manufacturing industry.
Apprenticeship programs were created with the hope of solving this issue. Students receive a blend of theoretical classroom training and hands-on, real-world experience while on the job. Such programs require strong cooperation between employers and educators over a long-term period. While apprenticeship programs have disappeared in many industries, it is clear there is a need for them in manufacturing. Feintool, our Member Spotlight profile for May, is a company that has taken the lead, pioneering an apprenticeship program that has been in place since 1988. The growth of their business is directly related to their ability to develop the skilled talent that is required to design and build their components. Additionally, this system is beneficial because many of those that hold management positions have risen through the ranks after gaining first-hand experience in the program. Since they have an intimate knowledge of the manufacturing process, they are better prepared to make informed company decisions.
Gabriel Venzin, Vice President of Feintool Equipment Corporation, will be speaking about their apprenticeship program at the EACC conference on May 16th, which will focus on the skilled labor workforce in the United States and in Europe.
We hope you will join us. We encourage any interested members to contact Anne Cappel directly about using the EACC’s resources in this area.
EACC Board President