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Teach Your Children Well

Originally Published MPMN

April 2003

EDITOR'S PAGE

Teach Your Children Well

With the aging of America, the medical device industry, like U.S. manufacturing in general, may soon be facing a crisis in its workforce. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) reports that even in today's weak economy, 80% of all U.S. manufacturers report a moderate to serious need for qualified, trained workers. The organization further says that more than 60% of manufacturers can't meet production levels to satisfy customer demand. 

Without an influx of new employees, the situation will only get worse. The average worker is approximately 58 years old, NAM reports. As these people retire, the manufacturing sector will need to hire 10 million new people in the next 20 years, according to NAM estimates.

Employers must wage a public relations campaign to recruit highly skilled and motivated young people to fill these vacated positions in manufacturing environments. In order to attract the high-quality workers that will be needed, "we must do a better job of telling the world that manufacturing is a noble profession," says Richard E. Dauch, Manufacturing Institute chairman, and also cofounder, chairman, and CEO of American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. 

To help manufacturers achieve this goal, NAM is sponsoring the tentatively titled Manufacturing Careers Campaign. Its mission is to create a positive public image through a national advertising program, which may include print media and television and radio commercials. 

Individual manufacturers need to be involved, too. They can have a huge impact on the local public, especially the young people who will likely become their employees. Under the program, executives are encouraged and coached by NAM on writing editorials for local newspapers and being booked on talk shows. 

Companies can become involved with students and public schools to teach young people about the realities of careers in manufacturing. They can also conduct tours of their facilities for community organizations and the media. 

The program is admirable for at least two reasons. If it achieves its stated purpose, manufacturing will benefit from a highly skilled, dependable workforce. The reverse is also true. Because of the very public nature of the campaign, it will force manufacturers to run the kinds of operations that talented young people will want to join. Both manufacturer and worker will be well served.

As Dauch says, "We must change the perception that manufacturing is a dirty, dark, dead-end industry. In reality, manufacturing is a high-tech field with interesting and useful opportunities and excellent compensation."

Susan Wallace, Managing Editor

Copyright ©2003 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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