What Are You Doing to Attract Talent to Manufacturing- Bracalente Manufacturing Group

October 7, 2014

“Due to robotics and automation, our technician jobs are becoming higher paid and higher skilled”- Ron Bracalente, CEO, Bracalente Manufacturing Group

Manufacturing Day event at Bracalente Manufacturing Group. Real People. Real jobs.

Manufacturing Day event at Bracalente Manufacturing Group. Real People. Real jobs.

PMPA member Bracalente Manufacturing Group held their first MFG Day event last week. Students got to see first hand what a career in Precision machining could look like.

The event helped to change the conversation regarding the need for skilled people in advanced manufacturing companies like Bracalente Group.

Bracalente Group’s Trumbauersville, PA  event hosted :

  • 120 9th graders 
  • 20 students  from the local Vo-tech school,
  • 90  students from the new STEM program.

The STEM program is a college preparatory class structure for kids that are interested in Engineering and Tech.

Here is a video from The Intelligencer who reported on MFG Day.

Bracalente Manufacturing Group hosts local students to MFG Day event

PMPA member companies across the U.S. and Canada joined Bracalente in helping to change the conversation regarding options for satisfying well paying technical careers.

What are YOU doing to change the conversation?


MFG DAY Events in Rhode Island- Take 2

September 18, 2014

The folks in Rhode Island are doing their part to make the availability of great careers in manufacturing known to students, teachers and counselors. Take a look at this list of MFG Day activities.

RI Mfg Week header Events (2) copy

Experience what happens when you add Art and Design to manufacturing on September 29th from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm at the RI School of Design. Join some of RI’s most innovative manufacturers and designers.



Learn about the Next Generation Manufacturing Study from John Brandt, founder of The MPI Group, on September 30th from 7:30-9:00 am at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (hosted by DiSanto Priest)



Showcase your products and career opportunities at our Manufacturing Career Awareness event at Quidnessett Country Club on October 1st from 3:30-7:00 pm.



Get an inside view of URI’s College of Engineering and learn more about the services they can provide to our local companies on October 2nd from 3:00-7:00 pm

Tour CCRI’s Integrated Manufacturing Center and meet with their staff to understand their manufacturing training capabilities on October 3rd from 1:00-4:00 pm.


The shortage of skilled employees is one of the most important challenges that we face in manufacturing today. It is good to see us address this challenge.

mfgday logo

Rhode Island “Gets” MFG DAY

September 17, 2014

There is a lot happening in Rhode Island to help spread the word to high school students about MFG Day and the great careers available in our advanced manufacturing precision machining shops.

Oct 1 WPS posterV2

We’ll be following up with more from Rhode Island in our next post!

Manufacturing Productivity Up 3.3%- BLS

September 4, 2014


The Bureau of Labor Statistics released Manufacturing Productivity Numbers  for second quarter 2014 this morning:

“Manufacturing sector productivity increased 3.3 percent in the second quarter  of 2014, as output increased 6.9 percent and hours worked increased 3.5  percent. The increase in output was the largest since the second quarter of  2010 (11.6 percent). Productivity increased 3.4 percent in the durable goods  sector and increased 4.7 percent in the nondurable goods sector. Over the  last 4 quarters, manufacturing productivity increased 2.1 percent, as output  increased 3.7 percent and hours increased 1.6 percent. Unit labor costs in  manufacturing decreased 1.6 percent in the second quarter of 2014 and  increased 0.8 percent from the same quarter a year ago.” BLS release.

If you have been following our blog, this is probably not unexpected news for you.

 Kalkaska;  August Indicators Bullish on MFG

Manufacturing is a great place to work!

Manufacturing is a great place to work!

Precision machining companies make the high precision highly engineered components that make most manufactured products function.

In other news today seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment increased  to 302,000; the real U-6 unemployment rate is 12.6%.

Given that the Civilian workforce is 156,123,000 persons, this represents 19,671,498 persons unemployed.

If I was unemployed, wanted to work, and I saw the bullish numbers about manufacturing, I know what I would do.

Career benefits for Precision Machining

Career Training

Photo Credit: StealingFaith

Kalkaska Screw- Manufacturing Growth Biggest In Years

September 3, 2014

Kevin Schlueter, President  of PMPA member company Kalkaska Screw Products, Inc.  (KSP) was featured on UpNorthLive, a news and information website covering Northern Michigan.

Great news for manufacturing in Northern Michigan according to KSP's Kevin Schlueter

Great news for manufacturing in Northern Michigan according to KSP’s Kevin Schlueter

Kalkaska Screw’s newsworthy subject- Manufacturing in Northern Michigan growing strongest in years.

“”There’s a lot of great manufacturing that’s taking place in this area,” Kevin Schlueter, Kalkaska Screw Products President & CEO, said. “Not just the Kalkaska area but the greater Traverse City area, there’s some amazing manufacturing going on.””

We know there is some amazing manufacturing going on at KSP- where they ship over 2.8 million high- tech, high-precision, often human safety critical parts- each month!  (Automotive Brake, Passenger Restraint, and Airbag parts among others!)

Kalkaska Screw Products has added almost 20 jobs this year and is looking to add 10 more. An Employee owned (ESOP) company, currently KSP has 91 employees- top employer in Kalkaska County.

“To add that many jobs and to help out the community is something we’re really proud of,” Schlueter said. “We need more employees. We ship about 2.8 million parts per month and so you need the right number of employees to get that work done.”

Yesterday, the ISM PMI report for August was released showing”the highest recorded New Orders Index since April 2004 when it registered 67.1 percent.”

Employment prospects for PMPA member shops remains High with 96% of responding companies expecting employment prospects to remain the same or increase over the next three months.

Thanks to Kalkaska Screw Products, Inc. President Kevin Schlueter for helping get the word out that Manufacturing is thriving and that we have great career opportunities in our shops for people “making things that make a difference.”

And thanks to UpNorthLive for the great story.


Precision Manufacturing Then and Now- Precision Plus Blog

June 25, 2014

PMPA member company Precision Plus President Mike Reader posted two great videos on his blog last week.

Mike-Reader2Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, we thought we’d “flatter” Mike for his awesome taste in videos:

That was a view of precision manufacturing back then.

And here is a view of what is new in precision manufacturing these days:

It’s still about the craftsmanship.

It’s just that our technology today moves our “craft” to the right a few decimal places.



Do take a moment to visit the Precision Plus Blog


Upside-Down Degrees Connect Skills Acquisition and Education- Milstein Symposium

June 23, 2014

“Upside-down” programs allow students to transfer accredited technical training, work experience, military training, or community college coursework as credit toward a bachelor’s degree. Expansion of such programs, with emphasis on manufacturing-related fields, will reduce barriers between skills training and degree attainment, and enhance the quality of the manufacturing workforce.”- Milstein Symposium Building a Nation of Makers

Upside Down Degree

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have traditionally succeeded by combining practical production knowledge with technical expertise and business acumen. The blend of practical, technical and managerial  that typifies these firms is not the result of a 4 year college program.  While technical and managerial knowledge can be obtained in college coursework, obtaining practical production type skills are gained in another path.

According to the Milstein Symposium report, “More troubling is that students are given little incentive to connect these two tracks. Colleges and universities frequently do not offer transfer credit for technical skills acquired either on the job, in community colleges, in the military, or through training.”

To overcome this disconnect, they propose an expansion of upside-down degrees.

An  “upside-down”  program essentially inverts the traditional four-year college model. Upside-down students start with the focused technical training and then take the broader coursework to both expand their knowledge base and enhance their critical thinking (see diagram above).

An “upside down’ program would entail academic credit / recognition for varying combinations of:

  • Technical training,
  • Military training,
  • Associate’s degrees,
  • Job experience

These could  be counted as up to two years of college credit.

Students then need only complete the remaining coursework to earn a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution.

Upside- down degrees can provide an  excellent means of integrating the skills needed by employees at todays advanced manufacturing SMEs- technical, practical, and managerial/academic.

We think that this idea is worth considering. We know that it works- as many of our PMPA member companies provide support for continuing education of both technical and college subjects.

Upside- down degrees

For more details on upside-down degrees see idea #2 (page 16 of the PDF) at the Milstein Report on PMPA’s homepage.




Talent Investment Loans to Expand Human Capital- Millstein Symposium

June 18, 2014

“Government-backed talent investment loans will give SMEs the capital to hire the workers necessary to expand their businesses, as well as to up-skill these and current employees. These loans will include incentives to encourage economic and social goods, such as worker retention, attainment of certified skills, and hiring from target populations.” Building A Nation of Makers

Nation of makers

We were not at all surprised to find that the first idea of the symposium addressed a quality workforce.

Our advanced manufacturing technologies require skilled workers to operate.

Prospects looking to build factories number one concern is does a location have a quality workforce.

In the US, we have it backwards- we pay far more to have workers idle on unemployment than we spend to retrain them.

According to CNN.com, in 2012 the US spent over $520 Billion on unemployment benefits.

According to NY Times in April 2012, the US government was spending no more than $1.2 Billion on workforce training annually.

Our worker training budget is just  0.23% of our unemployment spend. Less than a quarter of a percent to actually address the root cause of our unemployment problem, people lacking skills.

According to the report:

  • Having the right talent is essential to SMEs.
  • SMEs can grow rapidly beyond capability of existing staff to keep pace.
  • SMEs know the talent they need but lack the funds to invest in new workers.

Creating Talent Investment Loans can help SMEs to create skilled middle class jobs

  • Providing capital up front;
  • Low interest rate- Federal guarantee;
  • Terms can be adjusted to achieve value criteria- employee retention, targeted hiring from population in need, enabling new and existing workers to earn an industry credential.

Ultimate goal of these loans is to increase workforce skills and participation- to provide greater opportunities for hiring and retention over the long run- of high skilled and high demand talent.


An important step toward Rebuilding the  American Middle Class in the process. Restoring the American Dream.

Photo credit

Six Ideas to Reinvigorate the American Dream- Through Manufacturing

June 17, 2014

“By almost any measure the American Dream is in Peril. The  robust middle class growth of the 1950’s and 1960’s began to fade in the 1970’s and the core elements of the American Dream- homeownership, (job security*), secure retirement, and building a better life for your children- steadily eroded in the decades that followed.”-Milstein Symposium report, Building a Nation of Makers, June 13, 2014, Washington D.C.

The report indicates that Manufacturing remains a vital pathway to Middle Class, and achieving the American Dream.

american dream

Here are the 6 fresh, actionable ideas to expand the opportunities for middle class manufacturing jobs, restoring the American Dream developed by the Millstein commission:

  • Talent Investment loans to Expand Human Capital
  • Upside-Down Degrees to Connect Classroom Learning with On-the-Job Learning
  • A Skills Census to Build a more Efficient Skilled Labor Force
  • A National Supply Chain Initiative  o Fully Map America’s Manufacturing
  • Up-Skilling High School Students with Expanded Technology and Engineering Certification Programs
  • A “Big Trends- Small Firms initiative to Diffuse the Latest Technologies to Manufacturing SME’s

Together these recommendations wield tremendous transformative potential.

These ideas are actually able to be done. They address remediable issues in the manufacturing ecosystem- outside of politics, which appear to be in perpetual gridlock.

These ideas are implementable. In future posts, I hope to show how in fact these are actually part of the existing work product of PMPA, and how the identification of these by the Commission validates our work and strategic plan.

These ideas add value. PMPA has been involved in skilled workforce in manufacturing actively since the President first convened the Presidents Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (PCJC),  and ongoing through our work with other organizations including MFG Day and Business Leaders United, various community colleges and others. Yet, there are ideas in the Symposium’s report that are new and worth trying.

Next post: Talent Investment Loans to Expand Human Capital

 * I added job security- MKF

Milstein Commission on New Manufacturing to Release Report on June 13 in D.C.

June 12, 2014

PMPA member Aaron Bagshaw of W.H. Bagshaw  Co. Inc. served on the commission. We reported on this in our blog post here.

At that time, Aaron told us “It’s no longer about recognizing that we have a problem- it’s about finding ways to scale what works.”

Milstein Commission on New Manufacturing

Milstein Commission on New Manufacturing

We will be attending the release of this important report aimed at creating “actionable, non -partisan ways to create middle class manufacturing jobs.”

We are looking forward to finding out about the ways the commission has identified  to scale what works.

 Creating awareness of industry and promoting career opportunities  is one of PMPA’s four current strategic goals.

The report is also focused on “how to accelerate the innovative capacity of American manufacturing’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).”

We’ll be reporting from the Washington Release of this report.

With the Workforce Participation Rate at or near it historical low- “Now is the time!”