07/11/2012 by Ed Coghlan

Suddenly everyone is talking about manufacturing

This article was originally posted on the California Economic Summit blog.

So, is it just us or is everyone suddenly talking about the lack of skilled workers in the United States? 

The California Economic Summit was held in May and the topic "what to do about workforce preparation" attracted more people than any of the other 6 Signature Initiatives. The Action Plan was released earlier this month and workforce preparation was (and is) a critically important topic. 

In other words, it's not just us. 

Two prominent national leaders, Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations and Klaus Kleinfeld, Chairman and CEO of Alcoa, were making the same point in an  op-ed written in USA Today. In fact, the article parroted much of what the Economic Summit was talking about. There aren't enough skilled workers and we need to do something about it. 

They say a staggering 300,000 skilled manufacturing jobs stay vacant in the United States because the workforce isn't trained properly. 

To an Orange County manufacturer, who is also Vice Chairman of the National Tooling and Machining Association, the focus on this topic is welcome but way overdue. Bob Mosey runs Mosey's Production Machinists in Anaheim and wonders what took everyone else so long to connect the dots.

"It amazes me that these folks are just now realizing the problem. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Twenty years ago or more, we allowed the schools to close the Industrial Arts programs, really without a fight," said Mosey. 

He's happy that the Economic Summit is tackling the issue, but cautions that this will not be a quick fix. 

"Our flow of young people entering the manufacturing industry was cut off long ago. It will take time for us to get it going again. In the meantime, we must do what we can to introduce young people to manufacturing careers through industry training," said Mosey.

The NTMA has a laundry list of programs it is using to train workers: National Robotic League (NRL), the Manufacturing Challenge at WESTEC, Skills USA, NIMS and several NTMA Training Centers. 

"I'm confident we will regain our world dominance in manufacturing. We just have to keep swinging," Mosey said. If you've been following our blog, Mosey's comments may sound familiar. 

Brett Guge of the California Steel Industries in Fontana was telling us in March that the lack of trained manufacturing talent is a national problem and that California has an opportunity to lead this effort nationally. 

If we can't make the ball, we're certainly going to drop it and allow other emerging nations like Brazil and China, despite its slowdown, reap the benefits of our inaction.

The work of the Summit Action Team on this and the other Signature Initiatives is continuing in the wake of the release of the Action Plan.

Categories: Economy

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