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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Manufacturing Day Represents Opportunity for Industry to Take Back the Narrative

Manufacturing DayIndustries across the country are welcoming visitors into their factories today to give people a real look at 21st-century manufacturing. Students, veterans, and other community members will tour facilities where they will witness first-hand the importance of high-tech manufacturing and the bright career paths it can offer job seekers.

Studies of America’s skills gap have shown the country is significantly under-prepared to deal with the demand for a skilled manufacturing workforce in the coming years. A significant contributor to this gap is the looming wave of retirement by baby boomers, who have already been working past traditional retirement age.

Almost 50 percent of U.S. employers struggle to fill jobs, despite the considerable number of people under 30 who are unemployed, according to a Forbes report. Skilled manufacturing jobs, including machinists, number 12 million today compared with 19 million in 1972, as technology and offshoring business practices shaved away the industrial workforce, the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently reported. However, many companies, including big names like Apple, have either reshored or begun putting manufacturing work in the U.S. in recent years, and yet find it difficult to fill positions. As workforces drew down between the 1970s and today, high schools eliminated machining classes, and community colleges and vocational schools stepped away from manufacturing.

As it stands, many people are left with the impression of manufacturing they get from movies: grease-covered men in loud factories performing menial tasks for hours on end. Events like Manufacturing Day are designed to address this image problem. The manufacturing industry lost its hold on the manufacturing narrative, and now it needs to get it back.

Videos like the one above, featuring the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Watermark Designs facility, showcase the type of manufacturing that is being performed in peoples’ backyards without being noticed. Small and mid-sized production facilities across the country use specialized computer and network technologies to perform precision machining, laser cutting, and other machining operations.

Manufacturing Day stakeholders plan to spotlight the variegated face of industry by inviting folks into their factories. While Watermark Designs and Bronx, N.Y.-based elevator systems maker G.A.L., which IMT Machining Journal visited last year for Manufacturing Day, are legacy companies, many smaller, artisanal manufacturing companies in New York and elsewhere are opening their doors for the first time. These companies are demonstrating the way computer skills, such as CAD and CAM manipulation, and new technologies like additive manufacturing, are helping to shape industrial production.

Check back here on IMT Machining Journal for video content from Brentwood, N.Y.’s Thuro Metal Products, including an exclusive interview with the president of the precision machined metal components manufacturer, David A. Thuro. He’ll tell us why his company welcomed tours for Manufacturing Day, and why it’s important for companies to commit to outreach in other ways.

And don’t forget to share your own #MfgDay story on Twitter, or through the Manufacturing Day website.

–Brian Lane

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