Over the next decade, it is estimated that nearly 3.5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs will be needed, and 2 million of those jobs are expected to go unfilled due to manufacturers’ inability to find talent with the required skills. The retirement of baby boomers, strength of the economy, and attractiveness of the industry are ranked among the leading factors impacting this skills gap. While 90% of Americans value a strong manufacturing sector, only 37% would encourage their children to pursue a career in the industry.1
These statistics are troubling. Too many people view manufacturers as outdated factories filled with line jobs – not as innovative, inventive businesses where workers develop and use the latest technology, building lasting, middle-class careers.
Manufacturers across the country helped change this perception by inviting students, career guidance counselors, parents, and workers to open houses, public tours, educational programs, and career workshops at plants and factories across the country on the fourth-annual national Manufacturing Day on October 2 and throughout the month of October.
Nearly 2,500 events occurred – shattering last year’s record of 1,600 events – with the purpose of introducing as many people as possible to the significant role played by manufacturing in our country. These events were not just informational. They were a way for manufacturers to convey their passion for what they do, and explain why and how young people can embrace the profession through post-secondary training that often lasts just a year or two and doesn’t leave them with decades of college loan debt.
Indeed, the emotional connection to those attending demonstrated in a very meaningful way the numerous opportunities available, highlighting how manufacturing contributes to the vitality of our community, and showed modern manufacturing for what it is – a sleek, technology-driven industry that offers secure, good-paying jobs. By participating, we anticipate more young people now will want to follow a manufacturing career path.
Take Chris Monzyk, for example. He was a student at Ozarks Technical College in 2013 when he was part of a Manufacturing Day tour at Detroit Tool & Engineering in Lebanon, Missouri. Intrigued by what he saw and identified by the company as a possible potential recruit, Monzyk was offered an opportunity to join the firm. Today, he proudly works as a machinist in the 109-person company that builds tools, dies, and custom automation systems.
And then there is Micah Rider who, as a high school student in 2013, took a Manufacturing Day tour arranged through Wichita Area Technical College (WATC). By 2014 he had graduated and was enrolled at WATC and led one of its facility tours on Manufacturing Day. Rider is excited about his pursuit of a manufacturing career and getting other kids to follow in his path. In New Hampshire, 88% of students said they were more likely to consider manufacturing jobs after their visits to local factories, and in Florida, 95% of student participants said they learned something new about the sector.
By reengaging local communities to showcase their manufacturing sector and demonstrate the contribution that manufacturing makes to the local economy, we can ensure a better future and way of life for our children and grandchildren. Our future depends on our ability to strengthen and advance this vital sector of our nation’s economy.
From coast to coast, America’s manufacturers are the backbone of our economy, and our country’s growth and future are closely linked to their success. Through programs like Manufacturing Day, we help support this vital sector of the economy as it continues its resurgence and help ensure America’s manufacturers remain at the center of our nation’s prosperity.
1Statistical sources include the 5th U.S. Public Opinion on Manufacturing study by Deloitte & Manufacturing Institute, 2014.
I was very saddened by the death of my good friend Ray Hanley, who passed away May 30 of this year. I got my first certification in 1987 and was introduced to several members as time went by, and in the early 1990s, I met Ray at an IFPS annual meeting. He was dedicated to educating everyone in the fluid power industry for the purpose of raising the bar of expertise and competency in our industry and providing a vehicle for attaining it. We worked together for many years on the certification committee of the IFPS, and he encouraged me to the point of becoming the Society’s president in 2000.
Ray and I would have long discussions about the lack of training in our industry and how to improve it. When I owned a repair business in the 1980s, I would receive a lot of hydraulic pumps for repair and rebuild. Over 50% of the units made me wonder why the customer sent them in to us. They were in good condition inside and should have functioned fine. When we contacted the customer, the predominating response was “lack of pressure” in the system. Pumps do not cause pressure; their job is to provide flow. Resistance in the system causes pressure. Invariably, we would get a bad cylinder or pressure control to repair after the customer installed the rebuilt pump, and it did not fix their original problem.
When I was in the repair business, I put on a basic fluid power course one night a week for eight weeks. I got a lot of satisfaction out of helping our customers’ employees understand troubleshooting techniques and how their systems worked. This was probably why I started CFC 25 years ago, and I still enjoy it at the age of 70.
Like Ray, I too felt that certification was a good tool to elevate the expertise and knowledge of our industry. I just wish more employers would see the value and return on investment that well-trained employees bring to the table in less downtime and fewer components purchased.
Ray felt strongly that IFPS and its certification program would be a great vehicle to encourage and promote training. Over the 25 years CFC has been in business, I can say that a large number of fluid power distributors, power and light companies, as well as several OEMs have promoted training and the certification of their employees that might not have happened if it were not for the IFPS certification programs.
I’m sure Ray is happy with how the IFPS has made such an impact on our industry and continues to do so.
It’s hard to believe that the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) is in its tenth year. It’s been a decade of rapid growth, and CCEFP is now one of the leading academic fluid power research centers in the world. We have led a renaissance in research and have reinvigorated the fluid power profession in this country. But the tenth year means that we are coming to the end of our financial support from the National Science Foundation. This has led the CCEFP and the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) to think of new ways to work together.
The NFPA Foundation has created The Pascal Society. By combining the contributions of many individuals into a single effort, The Pascal Society seeks to develop the resources, tools, and people to meet the technology and workforce needs of the U.S. fluid power industry. A major goal is the support of pre-competitive research projects through the CCEFP. These projects are important because they connect advanced-degree students to our industry, create more infrastructure in our leading universities, and increase the ability of those universities to teach fluid power to their undergraduates. The Society has been structured to facilitate the engagement of its industry members in setting a research strategy, selecting the projects most likely to benefit our industry, and reviewing the progress of the students working on them. It is one of the best ways to introduce talented engineers to our technology and to bring them into our industry. For more information about joining the Pascal Society, please contact Eric Lanke, CEO of the NFPA, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To increase the communication and collaboration between university researchers and industry, the NFPA and the CCEFP have created FPIRC, the Fluid Power Innovation and Research Conference. FPIRC is the premier conference for fluid power industry and academic research in North America. It connects industry to university resources and talent through technical sessions, networking opportunities, laboratory tours, and panel discussions on the technologies and workforce skills needed to continue growing the fluid power industry. FPIRC will be held on October 14-16, 2015 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Chicago. Registration information can be found at http://www.ccefp.org/get-involved/fpirc-2015. FPIRC 2015 is co-located with the ASME/Bath Symposium on Fluid Power and Motion Control, to be held on October 12-14 in the same hotel. More information about the ASME/Bath Symposium can be found at http://www.asmeconferences.org/FPMC2015/.
Government support for CCEFP pre-competitive research is another way we can continue to meet our goals. Toward this end, the CCEFP will participate in a poster show and reception on Capitol Hill on October 28, 2015. We need industry representatives to help promote the CCEFP to Congress, so if you have direct experience with CCEFP that you are willing to share with congressional staffers, please consider helping us. To participate, please contact Mike Gust at email@example.com.