Workforce Training- Solving the Skills Shortage Problem

April 15, 2014

PMPA member  North Easton Machine Company Incorporated  is taking an active role in solving the skilled workforce issues it faces. Jon Holbrook announced last week that North Easton Machine will be receiving $41,500 to help train 25 employees and create job opportunities for 4 additional staff over the next two years. This project is funded by a Workforce Training Fund grant through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant program is administered by the Commonwealth Corporation.

Today's technologies require today's skills!

Today’s technologies require today’s skills!

North Easton Machine Company is receiving one of sixty-six training grants awarded by the State of Massachusetts. The grants cover  employers with training for a combined 4,631 employees and the creation of 453 jobs over the course of the next two years. About North Easton Machine Co. North Easton Machine Company, Inc. an ISO 9001 certified contract manufacturer providing precision screw machine, turned, and milled parts to engineers and purchasers from a wide variety of markets. Founded in 1964, by Donald Holbrook, in the garage of his family’s home, today the business is housed in a 15,000 square foot facility. North Easton Machine Company is a state of the art CNC turning and milling company. NEM IMG_7045 North Easton Machine utilizes the latest CNC Swiss, CNC Lathe, and CNC Milling machines for superior speed, precision, and versatility. North Easton Machine proudly serves the bio-medical, microwave, high-tech, musical and electronic industries, among others, with an emphasis on high quality products and exceptional customer service. PMPA members are actively engaging their communities to try to solve the skills gap. For info on skills training in your area,  check out the PMPA Comprehensive Job Training Database

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4 PMPA Members to be Awarded Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Award

January 7, 2014

PMPA is proud to announce and congratulate the 4 PMPA members to be awarded the 2014 STEP Award by the Manufacturing Institute. step small

PMPA members named were Patricia Lewis, Berkley Screw Machine Products, Inc. Rochester Hills, Michigan; Tanya DiSalvo, Criterion Tool, Cleveland, Ohio;  Kimberly Arrigoni, Haberman Machine, Oakdale, MN;  and Janice Wiegand, Mercury Manufacturing Company, Wyandotte, Michigan.

The STEP Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory-floor to the C-suite.

“These women are the faces of exciting careers in manufacturing,” said Jennifer McNelly, president, The Manufacturing Institute. “These women were selected because they each made significant achievements in
manufacturing through positive impact on their company and the industry as a whole.“

The STEP Awards are part of the larger STEP Ahead initiative launched to examine and promote the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research, and best practices for attracting, advancing, and retaining strong female talent.

A recent survey from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that nearly 82 percent of American manufacturing companies have a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers. Contributing to this gap is the underrepresentation of women in the industry. While women make up approximately 50% of the labor force, that number is only about 24% in the manufacturing labor force.

On February 6, The Manufacturing Institute will recognize these 160 recipients from over 110 companies at the STEP Awards in Washington, D.C.  The STEP Awards program will highlight each Honoree’s story, including their leadership and accomplishments in manufacturing. By telling the real stories of these women, we will inspire the next generation of talent to pursue careers in the industry and support current female talent within the manufacturing industry.

Official Press Release:


Aaron Bagshaw Named To Miller Center Skilled Workforce Commission

October 31, 2013

When you are president of the oldest company in its manufacturing field in America, you probably have a pretty good handle on what it takes to sustain a  business.

Aaron Bagshaw (back row, Left0 and other members of the Commission at The University of Virginia Miller Center.

Aaron Bagshaw (back row, Left) and other members of the Commission at the University of Virginia Miller Center.

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

So we were not surprised to learn that Aaron, President of PMPA Member W.H.Bagshaw Co. Inc. was named to the University of Virginia’s Miller Center  Workforce Commission addressing  the nation’s “Middle Skills” workforce gap. W.H. Bagshaw was established in 1870, making it America’s oldest manufacturer of pins.

Former Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) and former Governor and Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) are co-chairing a new University of Virginia Miller Center commission that is focusing on job creation for small- and medium-sized manufacturers. The effort is part of the Milstein Symposium: Ideas for a New American Century, a new Miller Center initiative that is addressing challenges facing America’s middle class.

“For generations, small- and medium-sized manufacturers have provided stable, good-paying jobs for middle-class Americans,” said Bayh. “As we move rapidly into the 21st-century global economy, we need fresh thinking to ensure that these companies can continue to grow and put people to work.”

Barbour said, “The public has understandably lost confidence in Washington’s ability to generate common-sense, bipartisan solutions to our nation’s challenges. This commission will bring together policymakers, scholars, industry leaders and other stakeholders to craft those solutions – the type of people that can achieve broad consensus and develop actionable ideas, not just more rhetoric.”

Barbour and Bayh have strong histories in advancing new ideas to benefit manufacturing and small business. As governor, Barbour expanded the number of high-skilled jobs in Mississippi’s manufacturing sector and helped launch the University of Mississippi’s Center for Manufacturing Excellence. In the Senate, Bayh was active on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and introduced legislation to expand Small Business Administration loans to small manufacturers, which was enacted a year later.

The commission is expected to release recommendations in February.

Do you have ideas to share?- contact Aaron Bagshaw- just one of a host of your fellow PMPA members that are actively addressing the skills gap issue locally around the country.

Thanks for your leadership Aaron.


Skilled Workforce: What Washington Knows, and Needs

October 25, 2013

I had the privilege of participating in the Business Leaders United Fly-In to Capital Hill in Washington D.C. earlier this week representing the Precision Machined Products Association.

In our Monday evening meeting we were joined by Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzger, and from the White House, Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.

Two Cabinet Secretaries and the Top White House Economic Advisor showed me that Washington realizes we have a skilled workforce problem.

Two Cabinet Secretaries and the Top White House Economic Advisor showed me that Washington realizes we have a skilled workforce problem.

The fact that we got to meet with top staffers at various Senate and House offices, as well as staffers from the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) Committee convinced me that we had the attention of the folks who could make a difference in Washington, D.C..

I spoke with top staff assistants handling policy for Speaker Boehner and Senator Portman from my home state of Ohio.

We had substantive  and frank discussions about the facts (on which we all seemed to agree) and possible solutions for this issue.

What worked –  creating employer driven partnerships- even among competitors- summer youth programs, quantifying local area opportunities and job market research to make the career case- was shared and explored.

The challenges- lack of educational attainment, lack of ‘soft skills,’ and various funding issues were also discussed.

Despite the news stories about tension and gridlock in D.C, we were able to speak to the people that can help solve this problem.

Despite the news stories about tension and gridlock in D.C, we were able to speak to the people that can help solve this problem.

It is no longer about admitting that we have a lack of skilled workers in the ‘unemployed workforce.’

There was no evidence of denial of the problem of unemployment and lack of skills.

What all of our contacts asked about  was centered around three key questions:

  • What works to help us qualify and put to work long term unemployed in middle skill jobs?
  • How do we build the ROI case for this?
  • How do we scale it nationwide?

My fellow small business delegates from BLU shared  some of their challenges, but more importantly, their success stories of their local partnerships.

What Washington wants/needs to know is how can we build these up to gain national traction?

What would you suggest?


Skills CAN Fill the Skill Gap

April 30, 2013

Lack of skills were found to be behind the skills gap for production jobs according to a new  report by Twin Cities Business Magazine.
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Only in production work did lack of training seem to be a barrier for job candidates, and in about half of those cases, the training they lacked was technical training at the high school level—the sort of program that has disappeared from many schools.”

PMPA’s Vice President, Darlene Miller states in the article “I don’t think it’s coincidental that when our [high school] dropout rate increased by 30 percent was when all of our technical classes in our high schools ended.” And that is when industry lost its pipeline of potential skilled workers.

Three ideas to get back on track from the article:

1) European Educational Model. “We need to get back in the European path,” Miller says. “They really show students at [middle school] age, what are your potential career paths. And manufacturing and the trades are viewed just as highly as any other career.”

2) Build career awareness in younger students. “It’s costly to wait until people reach college age or older before introducing them to technical careers and skills. Rather than playing catch-up, employers and educators want to start the process earlier, not only with STEM education that emphasizes science, technology, engineering, and math in K–12 schools, but through more direct work with kids.”

3) Overcome parental fears about “vocational track’ education. Despite the fact that 54% of the unemployed have bachelor’s degrees, most parents still equate a college education with job security. “Parents worry about schools “tracking” their children at a young age: pushing them to choose between the path to college and the path to technical school, and closing off the road not taken.”

Skills certainly do pay the bills!

Skills certainly do pay the bills!

The Twin Cities Business Article concludes with comments from Darlene Miller on the skills gap: “The economic security and upward mobility that have long been the perceived promise of a four-year college degree are less certain now, it’s “skills that pay the bills.”

When we understand that 54 percent of our unemployed are college graduates, what does that tell us? It tells us that we’ve been training people for jobs that don’t exist,” she says. Just as some wonder whether the skills gap is real, Miller suggests that one of its sources—the notion that a bachelor’s degree is always the right choice—is a fiction.

“Is going into debt and spending six or more years to get a four-year college degree, and then not having any assurance of finding a job to cover that investment when you’re done, is that really real?”

Skills do pay the bills.

PMPA has a number of resources to help you explore a possible career in precision machining advanced manufacturing.

Career Overview

Training Database

Right Skills Now

Twin Cities Business Magazine


Labor Participation Rate- Even HUFFPOST Figures It Out!

April 5, 2013

The labor participation rate fell to 66.3 percent it’s lowest level in 34 years in March. What recovery?

Recovery? HA!

Recovery? HA!

Even the Huffington Post has figured out that we have a structural unemployment problem:

With more than 3 million open and available jobs on the career website CareerBliss.com alone, why do we keep seeing the labor participation rate dropping?

The answer is that employers can’t find the right workers. Too many unemployed American workers lack the relevant skills needed to fill the millions of jobs available.” -Heidi Golledge

That sure doesn’t sound like ‘cyclical unemployment’ to me.

Here’s more from HuffPost: “If you look at the current employment numbers there is a quality job out there for just about every graduate — if only they would have been guided toward courses of study that would give them the skills most in demand. We can start to bridge the skills gap now by guiding future workers toward growing and emerging industries.”

Sounds like the definition of structural unemployment to me: Structural unemployment is a form of unemployment which occurs when the number of vacancies is equal to, or greater than, the number of the unemployed. The unemployed workers may lack the skills needed for the jobs, or they may not live in the part of the country or world where the jobs are available.

We have been talking about this issue for some time- here, here, here, here are some of our most recent ones.

For a great (but ominous) discussion of just how bad this is, read The Market Ticker’s post: “The Chart That Will Crash The Market.

It is about this Labor Participation Rate chart posted above.

We need to give people skills so that they can be hired. Our industry is hiring. Info about skills  and careers can be found here. Need training? Check out PMPA’s Comprehensive Training Database.


Where The Jobs Are- Mark Tomlinson in Huffington Post

April 5, 2013

The manufacturing industry is facing an employment crisis. The rate of technical advances has outpaced our ability to educate and train workers on new machines and applications, creating a “skills gap.”Mark Tomlinson, CEO, Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Skilled machinists positions continue to be open in our industry.

Skilled machinists positions continue to be open in our industry.

I thought it was interesting that even during the depths of the last recession, the classified ads in the major newspapers still showed opportunities for setup and machinists in our precision machining sector of advanced manufacturing. It’s still true today. We have visited local community colleges  around the country that provide machining training and we hear the same story, after the first semester, “most of our students already have found a job or have one promised upon graduation.”

Here’s more from Mark-

“This is a great time to work in manufacturing. We’re applying once pie-in-the-sky technologies to real-world needs: creating strong yet flexible limb replacements for our wounded warriors, robots that crawl into the fuselage of an aircraft, mountain bikes for extreme enthusiasts, engineered for safety pushing the boundaries of men and machine. It’s stuff that captures the imagination.

“Yet students are not pursuing these jobs despite the cool factor. Some of it is institutional and some of it is perception. A major challenge is there is no academic infrastructure to administer STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum on a national scale. That’s compounded by a lack interest in STEM by educators, parents and students who may be more inclined toward attending a four-year college.”

We need to help change the perception of manufacturing and skilled trades.  In educators, parents, and students.

We need to help change the notion that going heavily into debt for a bachelors degree without a plan for return on investment (ROI)is the weay fofr our sons and daughters to get their start in life.

We need to show parents, students, counselors, teachers, our communities, the “existential joys of manufacturing”- the cool stuff we make, the high tech machines we use to make it, and the broad math, science, problemsolving intellectual skill set that we bring to our work.

That our skilled machinists are worthy of the highest respect.

Mark Tomlinson told the Huffington Post “We know where the jobs are.”

Indeed.

If you would like to investigate a career in advanced manufacturing / precision machining- we’ve prepared a a database to help you access training resources wherever you are. PMPA Career Info Database.

For more info you can also  search on “Manufacturing,” “Skills,” or “Career” in this blog’s search box in the upper right corner.

Or go to PMPA website Careers section.

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