Alternative Career Plans if College Doesn’t Come Through

May 19, 2016

If college was your first plan, but now it’s not, you need an alternative plan. The difference between low wages and a good paying career is having a plan.

“People who get the best options, the best money, the best jobs- have a plan. What’s your plan, if the college plan doesn’t come through?”

  • Hundreds of jobs in your hometown that employers want to see filled with local talent.
  • The best possible job for you should match your skills and your interests
  • Careers with a future
  • Let you grow you pay quickly based on your performance

Here are  3 career planning options that give you “Home Field Advantage” discussed in the video.

Alternate Career Plan #1 Direct to Work

Alternate Career Plan #2 Apprenticeship

Alternate Career Plan #3 Military Service

Thanks to PMPA Member  Company Vanamatic Company and Ohio Means Jobs for the video and wise career counsel.

Over 21,000 Industry Recognized Skill Credentials Issued by NIMS in 2015

January 26, 2016

21,420 to be exactThis is a 20% increase in the number of credentials issued in the United States from 2014. It is a great start toward the 100,000 skilled jobs that industry will need to fill over the next decade…

20% more credentials issued in 2015 over 2014

20% more credentials issued in 2015 over 2014


PMPA is an original founding partner of NIMS, and continues to support its mission to develop and certify industry recognized credentials for our workforce through consensus skill standards.

NIMS has developed skills standards ranging from entry-level to master-level that cover the breadth of metalworking operations and industrial technology maintenance. NIMS certifies individuals’ skills against these national standards via credentials that companies can use to recruit, hire, place, and promote individual workers. Schools and employer training programs incorporate the credentials as performance and completion measures to deliver high quality training to industry standards. NIMS will soon add credentials in Industrial Technology Maintenance and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) to its portfolio of offerings in 2016-2017.

NIMS works to ensure all individuals entering the workforce are equipped with the skills needed to be successful on the job from day one.

“Executives from PMPA member shops all tell us that they would hire people with skills -even if they did not have an immediate opening,”  says Bernie Nagle, Executive Director of PMPA. “Our support of NIMS, and the RIGHT SKILLS NOW program is one way that PMPA and our members are addressing the issue of lack of skilled workforce. We congratulate NIMS, and their entire team, on the growth in credentials issued in 2015.”

PMPA congratulates NIMS, all of its partner and sponsoring organizations, and the professionals doing the work that made 2015 a record year for credentials issued. This record is evidence of both the commitment  and achievement of developing a competitive workforce through our NIMS community.

For more information about NIMS : NIMS READY

For more information about Right Skills Now: Right Skills Now

For more information about a career in Precision Machining: Career Overview

Career fact sheet

Why NIMS- Kathy Looman, Gene Haas Foundation Remarks

November 24, 2015

“The growth and passion I have seen in in manufacturing education and credentialing in just a short time has been amazing.”

Kathy Looman from the Gene Haas Foundation made the following remarks at the ribbon cutting at the new Gene Haas Education Center at NIMS, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.Kathy Looman NIMS

“I have over 30 years in machine tool industry, and yet I felt most days like I belonged to a secret society. When I told people what I did for a living in manufacturing, they would ask me “what’s that?” They just had no idea about metalworking, machine tools, or manufacturing. They had no idea what I, as a woman, could possibly be doing in this business.

“I think that this unfamiliarity with manufacturing, with metalworking, with where stuff comes from, this is one of the reasons that the skills gap has occurred.  And why it is a major problem for us today. No one was telling the young people that manufacturing was a viable career opportunity- because no one knew it themselves. And so the perceptions we all know- you know Manufacturing is like that grainy black and white Charlie Chaplin movie- these perceptions are what is in the mind’s eye of students, their parents, and even the unemployed that could find a great career in manufacturing, if only they knew.

“But this isn’t a sad story. Exciting things are happening these days. The past few years, I have been able to take my manufacturing experience and put it to work promoting manufacturing education- the growth and passion I have seen  in just a short time has been amazing. We at the Gene Haas Foundation believe that NIMS- The National Institute for Metalworking Skills- is the glue that is connecting education, industry and workers. By providing a foundation for manufacturing education based on nationally recognized skills credentials, NIMS is also a catalyst that provides assurance to employers, candidates, and skilled workers that the skills that we need in today’s high- tech manufacturing jobs are there in the credentialed employee.

“Haas is doing more than saying “Good Job” and “Carry on” and letting others do this important work.  Just in the last year, Haas has installed about 900 machines in about 200 brand new skills training programs across the country. The country is filled with teachers needing trained.  Exciting things are going on as we are starting- as a country- to recognize the importance of having a skilled workforce for manufacturing and for our economy. So far this year, Gene Haas Foundation has given out 5 million dollars in scholarships to young people who are pursuing manufacturing education. When these young people are employed in manufacturing, our industry, economy, and country will be the better for their choice.

“That is why we are here today to celebrate the grand opening of The Gene Haas Education Center here at NIMS. The Gene Haas Education Center is a physical representation of the importance of what the National Institute of Metalworking Skills means to our industry and our country.  It is the means to create a more competitive and credentialed skilled workforce. For our employees, for our companies, for our industry, for our global competitiveness.

“We have high expectations for The Gene Haas Education Center. We need a globally competitive, credentialed skilled workforce. NIMS will put this to good use to make a difference for all of us in Manufacturing- employers, employees, candidates, and consumers. Because all of us have a stake in solving the skilled workforce issue.”

Labor Day- Not For A Record Number Of Americans

September 9, 2015

The number of Americans NOT in the workforce is at record levels, and yet the talking heads assure us that the unemployment rate is just 5.1%

Fred Graph of 10 year civilian workforce participation rate

So much for Happy Labor Day!

The headline rate “conveniently” ignores the folks that have given up trying to find a job, and so does not count them.

Poof Graphic courtesy

Magically 10.3% unemployment rate becomes 5.1%!

Data here.

How many Americans “are not in the labor force?”

According to BLS, over 94 million.

Precision Machining Industry is looking for skilled workers, while over 94million people are "not in the workforce."

Precision Machining Industry is looking for skilled workers, while over 94 million people are “not in the workforce.”

If you would like to join the workforce, are comfortable with Math and can learn by experience, perhaps you should consider a career in precision machining.

Our shops are scheduling overtime, pay well, and often will help with your training costs.

Where to go for training.

NIMS Announces Record Number of Metalworking Credentials issued in 2014

January 20, 2015

Credentials issued by NIMS in 2014 show that more students are preparing for success and high-demand careers.


In 2014, NIMS issued 18,947 industry-recognized credentials, representing a 36% increase from 2013.

36% increase!

“It is clear that the precision manufacturing sector is strong and growing, and more students and workers are preparing for success in the wide variety of jobs our industry offers,” said Jim Wall, Executive Director, NIMS. “NIMS would like to congratulate more than 8,000 individuals who earned at least one industry-recognized credential last year and have the ‘mark of excellence’ that will make them highly sought-after talent.”

PMPA is a founding member of NIMS, and is pleased to see this success at credentialing talent to enter our high tech industry. Credentialing real people for in demand careers, developing standards and credentials, this is how we develop an advanced manufacturing workforce to sustain manufacturing in North America. As NIMS continues to upgrade and adapt the standards to our evolving technology, we have confidence that our credentialed new hires will be up to speed and able to safely add value on the first day of the job. NIMS standards are the basis for the Right Skills Now Program.

The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) was formed in 1995 by the metalworking trade associations to develop and maintain a globally competitive American workforce. NIMS sets skills standards for the industry, certifies individual skills against the standards, and accredits training programs that meet NIMS quality requirements.

For more information on NIMS, visit NIMSREADY

For the full release on 2014 credentials earned, visit RELEASE

For information on Careers in Advanced Manufacturing check out our career blog at YOURCAREERFACTS


Where The Jobs Are- USA Today

November 14, 2014

Titled “More High Schools Teach Manufacturing Skills” the article confirms that ” U.S. high schools that have launched or revived manufacturing programs in recent years to guide students toward good-paying jobs and help fill a critical shortage of skilled machinists, welders and maintenance technicians.”

Here are a couple of points that they make that are worth sharing:

  • There is a glaring imbalance in the labor market. Despite high unemployment since the recession, manufacturers still struggle to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings.
  • Manufacturing is dogged by an outdated image
  • Manufacturing is “Actually,you’re working with computers and robots that are doing what you used to do by hand. That requires a skill set (in math and science) above what was required a generation ago.”
  • Community colleges also are turning out more prospective employees but not keeping up with demand. Nationwide, community colleges awarded 1,557 associate degrees or certificates in manufacturing last year, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. That’s up from 616 in 2005 but below the nearly 1,600 doled out in 2000.

In addition,  the USA Today piece has some informative graphics and video clips.

Here are some facts to consider.

Here are some facts to consider.

But the best takeaway from this piece is a quote from a student whose engagement with the manufacturing class has improved his grade performance and motivation:

With this class, I have the motivation…It’s a way out, I don’t want to be working at McDonald’s.”

Thank you USA Today for this positive story.

October 2014 ISM PMI-Manufacturing Remains Robust

November 3, 2014

“The October PMI® registered 59 percent, an increase of 2.4 percentage points from September’s reading of 56.6 percent, indicating continued expansion in manufacturing. The New Orders Index registered 65.8 percent, an increase of 5.8 percentage points from the 60 percent reading in September, indicating growth in new orders for the 17th consecutive month. The Production Index registered 64.8 percent, 0.2 percentage point above the September reading of 64.6 percent. The Employment Index grew for the 16th consecutive month, registering 55.5 percent, an increase of 0.9 percentage point above the September reading of 54.6 percent. Inventories of raw materials registered 52.5 percent, an increase of 1 percentage point from the September reading of 51.5 percent, indicating growth in inventories for the third consecutive month. Comments from the panel generally cite positive business conditions, with growth in demand and production volumes.”-  Bradley J. Holcomb, Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®

Highest level since  early 2011

Highest level since early 2011

Outstanding October
Sixteen of eighteen manufacturing industries reported growth in October.

We were especially pleased to see New Orders up 5.8 points to 65.8.

The October ISM PMI numbers reflected the  PMPA’s Business Trends results for September:

“The PMPA Business Trends Index for September increased 2 points (1.7%) from 117 to 119. This is the highest value for

September in the 5 years since the recession’s low of 83. September 2014’s 119 is 7 points, or 6.25% higher than the value for

September 2013. (On PMPA’s recently completed Shop Hourly Wage Survey, we determined that sales had increased 6% year over

year for those shops reporting in both 2013 and 2014.) The Sales Index average, year to date, is 121.9, up 4.9 points from the 2013

calendar year average. Six of the eight months this year have had an index value higher than that of the prior year. “

PMPA member companies continue to report strong sales and increasing lead times as the North American manufacturing economy continues to show its strength.

Now is a great time to be engaged in precision machining as advanced manufacturing continues to grow here in North America.


Graph courtesy Calculated Risk Blog

Precision Plus Training Initiatives Featured in STEM Magazine

October 31, 2014

Precision Plus, Inc. is featured in the latest issue of Wisconsin STEM Pathways Magazine. 

The article, entitled Companies in the Classroom–Putting the Classroom in the Workplace, chronicles the company’s two year journey from a concept to the reality of having an internship and a apprenticeship program for high school and college students, as well as a fully equipped classroom within its facilities.

Pathways-Article copy

PMPA member companies recognize the challenge of finding a skilled workforce.

That’s why companies like Precision Plus, Inc. are actually doing something about it.

And why we are active working locally and  nationally to make a difference and change the conversation about skills and careers and economic success.

Congratulations to Precision Plus, Inc., for leading the way to create the skilled workforce our industry needs.

To download a PDF of the complete article, click here.

The Precision Plus Inc. Blog

Precision Plus Website

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology- Equipment Upgrades = Workforce Upgrades

October 30, 2014

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster PA was recently awarded a JOBS1st PA Tech Grant of $148,970 to upgrade equipment in the Machine Tool and Computer-Aided Manufacturing Technology and Automotive Collision Repair Technology Applied Science degree programs. Funds will be used to purchase a CNC vertical machining center and a CNC turning center for the manufacturing program.

PMPA wrote a letter in support of the grant application in June.


Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Julia K Hathaway announced the award.

PMPA’s letter of support noted that the grant would “build regional capacity in small and mid size businesses that do precision machining.”

How important is that?

According to PMPA research “We know of 45 precision machining firms (NAICS 332721) in Pennsylvania with annual sales ranging from $250,000 to $33 Million. The average industry shop within PMPA has about $8 million in sales. A recent study  shows that 80% of manufacturers cannot find skilled talent to fill their production jobs. As a result, there are over half a million manufacturing jobs open right now. The demand for trained workers continues to grow in Pennsylvania and the  pipeline of skilled workers needs to be strengthened and enlarged to address advancing technology and skills in this changing industry.”

The addition of the CNC vertical machining center and CNC turning center does just that.

The equipment upgrades at Thaddeus Stevens are the means that Thaddeus Stevens will use to deliver “workforce upgrades” to its local market area in Pennsylvania.

PMPA is proud of our support of their grant request to make this award become a reality.

The skilled workforce issue is the top challenge facing our industry. PMPA is working on many fronts to help solve this challenge.

What are YOU doing to help meet the skilled workforce challenge that your shop faces?


The Atlantic-Apprenticeships- Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers

October 28, 2014

The need for talent is a universal concern- in Germany and in North America. The German apprenticeship model is effective in Germany. But can it be successfully transplanted here?

The Atlantic recently posted an article discussing the German Apprenticeship model here

Machinists are in high demand.

Machinists are in high demand.

They gave 3  key differences between German and US ideas of apprenticeships:

  1. The first thing you notice about German apprenticeships: The employer and the employee still respect practical work. German firms don’t view dual training as something for struggling students or at-risk youth. “This has nothing to do with corporate social responsibility,” an HR manager at Deutsche Bank told the group I was with, organized by an offshoot of the Goethe Institute. “I do this because I need talent.”
  2. The second thing you notice: Both employers and employees want more from an apprenticeship than short-term training. Our group heard the same thing in plant after plant: We’re teaching more than skills. “In the future, there will be robots to turn the screws,” one educator told us. “We don’t need workers for that. What we need are people who can solve problems”—skilled, thoughtful, self-reliant employees who understand the company’s goals and methods and can improvise when things go wrong or when they see an opportunity to make something work better.
  3. A final virtue of the German system: its surprising flexibility. Skeptical Americans worry that the European model requires tracking, and it’s true, German children choose at age 10 among an academic high school, a vocational track, or something in between. But it turns out there’s a lot of opportunity for trainees to switch tracks later on. They can go back to school to specialize further or earn a master craftsman’s certificate or train as a trainer in the company’s apprenticeship program—and many do.

Beyond ROI

The question that most North American businessmen have when discussing this issue is ROI- Return On Investment.

In Germany,  according to the article, the State pays the training expense for each apprentice-

In the U.S., Companies will have to foot the bill for almost all expenses themselves.

Trained and credentialed employees will have the freedom to leave the employer, arguably before that employer can get any return on their training investment. see our post “What if I train them and They Leave?”

We think that the cost problem and the ROI problem can be solved, with work, here in North America.

But the problem that we need to solve first  is what The Atlantic piece calls “the biggest obstacle:”

American attitudes toward practical skills and what Germans still unabashedly call “blue-collar” work. In America… we’re suspicious of anything that smacks of training.

I know as a parent, there is a lot of social pride at having ones children attend university.

But I am starting to see that the real pride is not about the university that one’s child attends, it is rather the fact that they got a job capable of offering a return on  the Investment of all those college expenses.

The real pride for parents these days is being able to say that their child in fact has a full time job. Is living independently. And is not overburdened with debt.

In North America,  the way to accomplish this is by “earn as you learn” to pursue a degree after getting a well paying career started. Often the employer provides tuition assistance.

Getting started in a well paying career in advanced manufacturing  can be as simple as a one semester training program at a local community college. Not years and years of loans and expenses and fees with no immediate ROI. Earn as you learn makes ROI simultaneous with your efforts, not some dreamed for, long in the distant future hoped for outcome.

Prospects for employment remain strong in the precision machining industry:

In September 2014, ~97 % of respondents (76/78 companies) expect Employment prospects to increase or remain the same over next three months. Prospects for employment remain strongly positive.

What is going to be the key for adopting apprenticeships here in North America?

I think that it will be the realization by all affected- businesses, potential employees, parents of students, educators, government officials- that there truly exists a critical need for talent.

In Germany, everyone knows this. Over here, well, for sure the employers do. everyone else- that is anyone’s guess.