Monday, August 10th, 2015

Manufacturing a Promising Future for Our Children

By Paula Hynes, Communications Coordinator, The Rodon Group

Every week, there is a news story about the lack of skilled workers to fill employment opportunities in the manufacturing sector.  How did we get to this point?    Many that could fill these spots went off to college and spent four years and thousands of dollars to gain the credentials needed to land a well-paying job.  Unfortunately, the outcome often didn’t meet the expectation.MFD logo

According to a recent study by Career Builder, nearly one-third of college graduates are not employed in their field of study.  And, 47% said their first job after graduation was not related to their major.  Many graduates find out too late that either their specialty is not in demand, or they need an advanced degree to get a job.  This trend leaves many job seekers with degrees that go underutilized.

Professional, skilled trade opportunities

However, there is still a great deal of employment opportunity. A recent USA Today analysis of data from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. and CareerBuilder estimates that by 2017, nearly 2.5 new skilled jobs will be added to the economy.  These jobs are described as “middle-skilled” opportunities.  They require technical training, but not a four-year degree.  These are well-paid jobs that offer long-term stability.

This resurgence in our manufacturing sector employment along with the rising cost of a college education has gotten the attention of public school administrators, trade groups, and government agencies.  The need for workers with professional trade skills has begun to shift the career paradigm.  Students as well as parents are the focus of outreach programs that help engage and inform the public about manufacturing opportunities.

Focusing on tomorrow’s manufacturing workers 

In 2012, a group of industry associations in collaboration with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership worked to develop a game plan for getting the word out about manufacturing careers.  The Fabricator & Manufacturers Association International®, National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute, felt one of the best ways to get kids excited about manufacturing was to show them manufacturing in action.  So, they put together a plan and a website to enlist manufacturers to open the doors of their facilities for tours, seminars, and other educational activities.  They called the event Manufacturing.  The stated goals of the event are: promoting manufacturers and skilled employment, expanding industry knowledge, and connecting with families, educators, associations & media for the betterment of manufacturing.

The Rodon Group was one of the first companies to sign-up.  One of our corporate mandates is to support and promote American manufacturing.  As a member of American Made Matters, a consortium of U.S. manufacturing companies, we wanted to be on the forefront of this movement.  And, we hoped a nationwide day promoting manufacturing would generate excitement.  Let’s face it, manufacturing has gotten a great deal of bad press in the past.  Many still think of old grimy sweatshops as the norm.  By opening our doors to students, teachers, faculty and the community we had the opportunity to challenge these perceptions first hand.  Most manufacturing companies today are bright, clean working environments that rely on automation and technology to run most of the operations.  The jobs in these companies are far from the manual labor of the past.  They require skilled professionals to operate the factory infrastructure.

Manufacturing Day is making a difference.

StudentsIn 2012, when Manufacturing Day began, there were a little over 200 companies participating throughout the country.  In 2013, that number grew to 830.  And by 2014, there were nearly 1,700 participating companies.  This exponential growth was a result of lots of attention and interest in American manufacturing and the skills gap that exists in our workforce.  By engaging  local communities, companies can show students and parents the opportunities available in the high-tech manufacturing factory of today.  In fact, Rodon has hired a few of these students..   And we often have technical school students working as paid interns during their summer hiatus from the classroom.  These students had either attended a Manufacturing Day event or participated in one of the school tours we give throughout the year.

We have also created a lot of media exposure for the company through promoting these events.  Last year, we hosted several high-ranking administrators from the Commerce Department as well as local legislators.  In 2012, several weeks after our Manufacturing Day event, we hosted President Obama, who was promoting fiscal policies.  Certainly, the added exposure we have received over the years has helped increase our brand recognition as a leading U.S. plastic injection molder.

Making things is cool

It’s clear that making things in the U.S. is cool again.  Consumers, legislators and businesses all realize the important role manufacturing plays in our economy.

Here are some interesting highlights from the National Association of Manufacturers “Facts About Manufacturing”:

  • The most recent statistics reveal manufacturers contributed $2.09 trillion to the economy, up from $2.03 trillion in 2012. This was 12.0 percent of GDP.1  For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.37 is added to the economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.2
  • Manufacturing supports an estimated 17.6 million jobs in the United States—about one in six private-sector jobs. More than 12 million Americans (or 9 percent of the workforce) are employed directly in manufacturing.3
  • In 2013, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $77,506 annually, including pay and benefits. The average worker in all industries earned $62,546.4
  • Manufacturers in the United States are the most productive in the world, far surpassing the worker productivity of any other major manufacturing economy, leading to higher wages and living standards.5
  • Manufacturers in the United States perform more than three-quarters of all private-sector R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector.6
  • Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the 9th largest economy in the world.  

(See sources below)

Mark your calendars

Manufacturing Day is always held on the first Friday in October.  This year the event falls on October 2, 2015.  Of course, The Rodon Group has already signed up, and we encourage all manufacturing companies to join us in this national event (link to MFG Day).  SPI, the Plastics Industry Trade Association, is a sponsor of MFG Day this year and is helping to promote other plastic processors like Rodon to get involved in the event.  Let’s work together to change the perceptions about manufacturing careers and promote our U.S. made products.

Watch this video to learn more. Follow MFG Day on Twitter @MFGDay and #MFGDay15

 

URL

https://youtu.be/EsmhVKuOl5c

Embed code

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/EsmhVKuOl5c” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Sources for National Association of Manufacturers “Facts about Manufacturing”:

Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Economic Accounts (2014).

2 Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Input-Output Tables (2013).

3 Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), with estimate of total employment supported by manufacturing calculated by NAM using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (2013, 2014).

4 Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Economic Accounts by Industry (2013).

5 NAM calculations based on data from the United NationsBureau of Labor Statistics and the International Labour Organization.

6 Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Economic Accounts by Industry (2013).

7 Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Economic Accounts (2014) and International Monetary Fund (2013).

- See more at: http://www.nam.org/Newsroom/Facts-About-Manufacturing/#sthash.7Xk5P503.dpuf

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Women in Manufacturing: From Rosie the Riveter to Rose the CEO

By Jill Worth, Marketing and Communications Specialist, The Rodon Group

My grandmother, Celia Shulman worked in the same factory in Philadelphia for 40 years. She made transistors for radios, TV’s and other electronics. She painted stripes on the transistors and worked in the shipping department at night. She never complained about her job and was proud to be able to go to work every day and support her family as a single mother. It was an honorable career then, and for many women in manufacturing today, still is. Rosie

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Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Millennials in Plastics

A guest post by Michael Stark, divisional manager, material handling and auxiliaries at Wittmann Battenfeld, Inc. and chairman of SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP). Originally published on LinkedIn.

FLiP_logo-2Where did they go? With a decade of traveling for and working in the plastics industry under my own millennial belt, I must say, my peers are hard to find and I start to wonder why. Was it our upbringing and a bias towards an office job developing the next app for our phones? Or trading dollars and cents at some financial organization? Were those careers considered “sexier” for us? Did baby boomers raise us to turn our backs on manufacturing?

I look back at my own introduction into plastics—a summer internship through a family member at a plastics manufacturer. At the time I thought “it’s a job and the money is good.” I really had no idea what this industry was. On day one of this internship, I found myself standing in front of a sub-ten second cycling, over one thousand-ton machine, producing over one hundred parts per cycle. I will never forget the sound, the sight, and the feeling I had. The hair stood up on my arms; goose bumps from watching. It was tons of steel, moving fast, with complex automation and programming, an awe inspiring display of mechanics, chemistry, and thermodynamics. Since that day I have been addicted to this industry, in which I have spent over the last decade building my career, and what a great career it’s been.  If it were not for the family member that got me the internship, I would have never have had the exposure, never had this career.

I’ve asked the few millennial peers I’ve met in this industry and it’s the same story—it was a family member, a friend, or a family business that led them to plastics. I say thank you for those who got us into this industry, because we enjoy it. But in the same breath, your recruiting effort fell short by a long shot; it didn’t do enough.

Michael Stark, SPI FLiP Chairman

Michael Stark, SPI FLiP Chairman and Divisional Manager, Material Handling and Auxiliaries at Wittmann Battenfeld, Inc.

I just read an article about Millennials representing over one third our labor pool; overcoming Gen X’ers and the now retiring baby boomers. But in the plastics industry I just don’t see it. What I see is a significant labor shortage that is eminent in the next decade, and what’s to be done about it? Offshore our efforts even more? What ever happened to the excitement of making something tangible for a living in this country? Did our parents leave this out of our upbringing? If building and programming highly complex robotics is not “sexy”, if producing lifesaving medical components and devices, cutting edge light weight cars, biodegradable materials, or the next big consumer product is not “sexy” to at least some of us Millennials, then what is?

So where did all my fellow Millennials go? Why did you not consider this industry? Did you not know it existed? Because if so, we as an industry need to fix that and fast.

Trust me, it is not a dark and dingy industry. If that’s your reason, then you need to see it for yourself. Or perhaps I’ll film a movie “The Wolf of Plastics” to bring the sexy back. We need skilled people, technical people, business people, and everything in between. We need younger generations to bring the spirit back to making things. We need you.