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State of Manufacturing in the U.S. Is Focus of Upcoming STLCC Seminar

October 01, 2012

Jennifer McNelly, president of the Manufacturing Institute  will be the keynote speaker at the Manufacturing Industry Insights Seminar that will be held 8:30 a.m.-noon Oct. 9 at St. Louis Community College’s Center for Workforce Innovation, 3344 Pershall Road.

The Manufacturing Institute is a Washington, D.C., based organization that is the non-partisan affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), dedicated to improving and expanding manufacturing in the United States.

The importance of a credentialing system to U.S. manufacturers and the NAM-endorsed skills certification system are among the topics that will be discussed in the seminar. Other main topics that will be presented include the state of manufacturing in the United States, current and projected manufacturing labor market demand, educating the manufacturing workforce, and employer engagement/action.

The Manufacturing Institute and its partners, which includes 113 U.S. community colleges, announced significant progress toward achieving a five-year goal to award 500,000 NAM-endorsed industry-based credentials to individuals positioning them for employment and advancement in manufacturing jobs. Over the past year, the certification bodies partnering with the institute have issued 84,738 certifications to students and incumbent workers that cover in-demand, portable skill-sets necessary across multiple manufacturing sectors.

Recent reports and statistics emphasize the importance of a credentialing system for U.S. manufacturers. The central challenge addressed at the 2012 North American Workforce Symposium on advanced manufacturing and logistics was how to overcome a U.S. deficit of as many as 600,000 skilled workers demanded by industry. At a recent NAM-hosted summit, 400 manufacturing executives grouped their most pressing issues into three main buckets, with “better workforce preparation,” lower taxes and a stronger development of domestic energy sources high on the list. In addition, the Manufacturing Institute’s skills gap study indicated that three out of four executives said a shortage of production workers with strong technical skills has hurt plans to expand operations or improve productivity.

Local intelligence tells the same story. A May 2012 survey of manufacturing employers statewide by Missouri community colleges confirmed that 83.3 percent are experiencing significant negative impact on their company’s ability to expand operations or improve productivity as a result of skill shortages in areas of skilled production (machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors, technicians and welders).  More than one third (36.1 percent) are trying to mitigate that shortage by outsourcing and 60.9 percent are forced to use overtime.  Eighty percent predict that skilled production worker jobs will be negatively impacted by retirements, and 53.2 percent expect to experience great challenges in filling those positions.

Industry clients of St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group express these same challenges.

“The greatest challenge is filling the pipeline with qualified candidates,” said Yvon Frigillana, director of human resources at Hydromat and Edge Technologies Inc. “To be qualified, especially in high tech industries, means primarily having the skill set required to do the work coupled with a good work ethic.”

To join this national and local discussion on Oct. 9, call 314-984-7777.