I’d like to wish everyone in the United States – whether you’re affiliated directly with manufacturing or not – a very happy 1st anniversary.
Well, it’s not exactly a happy one … but it HAS been one year since the President established the White House’s Office of Manufacturing Policy (OMP). This office was established in conjunction with replacing then-outgoing ‘manufacturing czar’ Ron Bloom with two co-chairs of this new office. Not one czar – two. Heading up an Office of Manufacturing Policy. Think on that one for a minute .
And still, we have no meaningful signs of a comprehensive manufacturing policy in this country. Instead, we drift along rivers of uncertainty, speculation, (in)visible hands, and disconnected initiatives.
At this stage, we should all be asking the obvious questions – including the most glaring: How much longer are we gonna have to wait?
You’ve heard and read the stories. They say that US manufacturing productivity has continued to rise over the past 15 years, accounting for the loss of manufacturing jobs. They tout these immense productivity gains – most often attributed to automation – as the direct result of our industrial & intellectual superiority.
These are great stories. And they’d be so much better if they were true.
I just stumbled across CNN/Money’s list of Best 100 Jobs for 2012. The list shows those jobs that are expected to grow and earn more money in the US over the next decade.
I was shocked – but not at all surprised – at the number of manufacturing-related jobs that made the list. Maybe you will be too. But probably not.
Steve Kline is the Director of Market Intelligence for Gardner Business Media (publisher of Modern Machine Shop and other media serving manufacturing since 1923). Steve’s work at Gardner gives him a unique perspective on the US economy, since he studies and reports on very specific manufacturing subsets of it – capital equipment, machine tools, and the economic performance of associated manufacturing technologies & their impact on the companies that sell and purchase them. His work is published regularly on Gardner’s Manufacturing Economic News Blog, and he regularly works with manufacturing groups and associations on research of the US & global manufacturing economies.
I sat down with Steve to discuss the current state of the manufacturing technology economy, and its vitality in the coming years.
In the heart of the US’ manufacturing heartland, a very special ‘machine shop’ with an equally special ‘shop manager’ just may well have found the solution to our manufacturing skills crisis. And it’s likely unlike any manufacturing business you’ve ever seen.
What makes this ‘shop’ special is that it’s housed in Eleva-Strum Central High School in Wisconsin, and all aspects of the business – Cardinal Manufacturing – are run by Eleva-Strum students.
It’s a remarkable model that – if accepted and considered by other US school districts & high schools – could have immeasurable impact on improving our long-term shortage of manufacturing talent in the US. Why? Because Cardinal has implemented a program that bridges the gap between technical proficiency and business acumen – something that only apprenticeships have accomplished in the past.