The Valve Manufacturers Association of America (VMA) says the valve industry is bullish on its hiring outlook. An employment report released at its just-held 75th anniversary annual meeting indicates that more than half of about 100 responding member companies are seeing domestic hiring increases of up to 5 percent in 2013, while nearly one-fifth of members are expecting employee growth of up to 10 percent.
The workforce figures, VMA notes, are consistent with the anticipated increase in valve shipments. The VMA forecasts that the U.S. industrial valve industry will grow by 3 percent this year, to a $4.3 billion market.
VMA includes Canada in its domestic workforce numbers. The total domestic industry employment figure is 30,000 individuals, a 50 percent increase from a decade ago. The average age of the industry’s workforce is 43.3, and the average years of experience is 13. Moreover, 26 percent of those employed have college degrees.
The association’s president, William Sandler, said while the industry’s hiring is growing, the employee base is also aging, which “will become more and more important for our members” to address. “In particular, many members continue to express concern about being able to attract enough young qualified workers and skilled labor such as welders and machinists,” he said.
VMA has been working on this challenge since 2009, when it began the all-encompassing Valve Ed program. Part of this program is a two-day valve and actuator training course, the next of which will take place in New Orleans in early November. The course, called Valves & Actuators 101, in turn, is part of the Valve Basics Seminar & Exhibits event.
The program, aimed at industry newcomers to drive career interest, also includes an online version of the Valves & Actuators 101 course and the “Valve Petting Zoo,” described as a “hands-on experience that enables participants to ‘touch and feel’ many of the products discussed during the course.”
To date, the program has taught 700 individuals, including new employees at valve, actuator, and control companies; professionals employed at plants that use valves and associated equipment; more experienced, niche professionals in need of a broad valve overview, and those who just need a refresher course. As VMA takes this program across different U.S. locations, it invites students from local schools who are majoring in mechanical engineering and related fields, who can attend at no cost.
At the annual meeting, VMA Chairman Mark Cordell, president of distributed valves business for Cameron Valves & Measurement, said, “Like so many industries in our nation, we are about to get hit with a double-whammy: We are losing a lot of experienced workers to retirement age at the same time we have not gathered the pool of young talent we need to replace those workers. We need employees with specialized technical skills as well as knowledge of valve operations.”
Concluding, he noted, “The valve industry and VMA are growing, hiring, and hungry for young stars.”