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In manufacturing, the future is hiring now — and we need many, many more people to join us

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Jay Timmons
It is now a given that virtual reality is considered the next frontier in gaming, but what surprises many people is that its close cousin, augmented reality, is part of the next frontier in modern manufacturing. As manufacturers deploy the technology, manufacturing employees are donning VR-type headsets to assemble and repair complex machines.

This is just one example of the many ways modern manufacturing is pulling us into the future. Harnessing technologies like artificial intelligence, co-bots — or robots that work collaboratively with humans — and 3-D printing, the industry is reinventing itself while at the same time developing life changing products.

Leading innovation has long been the story of manufacturing in America. Much has changed over the years, but one thing has not: Manufacturing is about people. Today in America, more than 12.8 million people have jobs in modern manufacturing. About 320,000 Minnesotans work in the industry. And yet, we need many, many more people to join us.

‘Creators wanted’

That is the message the National Association of Manufacturers is bringing to Minnesota this week as part of this year’s NAM State of Manufacturing Tour. In Minnesota and across America, manufacturers are saying “creators wanted,” with nearly half a million manufacturing jobs open right now.

Manufacturing jobs will continue to open for the foreseeable future — including high-tech, high-paying jobs like coders, technicians, programmers, designers and more. A recent study from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and education partner of the NAM, reveals that manufacturers will need to fill 4.6 million jobs in the next decade. On top of that, the study found that we will only have enough qualified workers to fill less than half of those jobs if more people don’t start joining our industry.

That is why we are traveling the country promoting the promising opportunities that Americans of all ages have to build a rewarding career in our industry. In Minnesota, we are visiting global power sports leader and recreational vehicles manufacturer Polaris and Protolabs, the world’s fastest digital manufacturing source for rapid prototyping and on-demand production.

Modern manufacturing jobs give people the chance to build something that matters — from the fuel that powers our lives to lifesaving medicines, from the latest smart devices to the rockets that will take humans back to the moon and onward to Mars.

On the tour, we will also be calling on our elected officials to ensure that nothing holds back manufacturing’s progress. We know there will be economic headwinds. But we can reach our full potential by advancing policies that uphold the values that have made America exceptional: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.

USMCA, infrastructure, immigration fix

For example, manufacturers want to see final approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as well as a trade deal to hold China accountable and secure relief from costly tariffs.

Americans deserve 21st-century infrastructure, so manufacturers are advocating major investments in our roads, bridges, ports, waterways, pipes, pipelines, electric grid and airports — as well as development of communications infrastructure like 5G technology.

We also want to secure a real solution for our broken immigration situation. We need a comprehensive and lasting fix — to protect families, Dreamers, our economy and our national security.

When we make progress on these fronts, and bring more people into the manufacturing workforce, manufacturers will be able to reach our full potential. And that should be a priority for any citizen or leader, regardless of their background — because the backbone of a strong American economy will always be a strong manufacturing industry.

Manufacturers are building the future, and the future is hiring now. There’s nothing virtual about that reality.

Jay Timmons is president and CEO of the NAM.


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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 02/25/2019 - 10:23 am.

    This is why high schools need to be starting people in trades etc. Kids could be getting a head start on robotics classes and other tech related jobs for manufacturing without incurring the big costs at tech colleges.

    I would also say we don’t need more immigrants. We have more than enough citizens to fill all these jobs. Remember, as tech advances, jobs will become more scarce (1 robot can work 24/7 instead of at least 3 people doing the same job). Importing more workers will leave many more citizens without jobs.

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 02/25/2019 - 11:47 am.

    Public schools are failing young Americans with less and less outrage by the tax payers. Until we demand more, starting with being in class over 185 days a year, nothing will change. Paying teachers more is fine, reduce middle management and put more money into succeeding in the classroom.
    Sadly, our decline over the past 30-40 years with educating our children, has come with a yawn from tax payers.

  3. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 02/25/2019 - 01:47 pm.

    This puff piece written by a public relations consultant seem far, far below the standards of MinnPost. This is merely a collection of meaningless buzz words and phases that tell us nothing about what the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is doing in Minnesota to support manufacturing, especially job training.

    Which manufacturing programs at which technical colleges is NAM helping to underwrite? What equipment or resources is NAM providing to Minnesota’s fine technical colleges to create or expand manufacturing related programs? How is NAM assisting in the recruiting of students to become the “creators wanted”? How many additional scholarships for students at Minnesota technical colleges is NAM going to provide to encourage “creators” to train for manufacturing related jobs?

    The NAM “State of Manufacturing Tour” ought to be doing more than just introducing a new slogan.

    (Full disclosure: I was a member and chair of the Minnesota State Board of Technical Colleges prior to merger into MnSCU/Minnesota State.)

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/25/2019 - 05:18 pm.

      Well for starters, manufacturers can stop asking for property tax holidays that deny revenues to local school districts.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 02/26/2019 - 01:22 pm.

      Well stated Jim. I was bowled over by the private sector yet again coming to gov’t with its hand out. And nowhere in the story, not once, did I see the word “wages”. Gimme, gimme, gimme.

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