January 9, 2007
Following the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show keynote address, the fabricator.com's Web Content Manager Vicki Bell sat down to talk with the speaker, former Michigan Governor and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President John Engler.Citing "Fabricating Update" survey results that steel prices and the skilled labor shortage are metal fabricators' No. 1 and 2 concerns, respectively, Bell asked Engler the following questions.
Does NAM (a very political entity) have a position on the corrosion-resistant-steel tariffs currently under sunset review by the International Trade Commission?
Engler: "No. Instinctively everyone has a desire to see tariffs come down globally."
He went on to say that NAM has members on both sides of the issue, and he believes that steel consumers are suffering more.
Can you tell us more about the "Dream It, Do It" project to combat the skills gap, and what needs to take place to increase the skilled labor work force?
Engler: "There should be an option earlier in high school to allow a young person to go down the technical path and receive certification. [The option and certification] should be part of a best-practices approach. We want to (and believe this measure will help) take the dropout rate to zero.
"We cannot rely on traditional counseling in school to promote manufacturing careers. We must bring counselors into the manufacturing environment to see what it's all about. Businesses need to serve on work force and educational boards."
According to Engler, the U.S. Department of Labor and NAM "helped organize a community coming together with stakeholders" in the "Dream It, Do It" project's pilot program in Kansas City and now have helped launch programs in Omaha and southwestern Virginia. Programs in Indiana and Ohio are next.
Engler stressed the importance of public relations to publicize the program and its opportunities, and he believes that communities that have these programs in place will attract more business to their areas.
More information about the "Dream It, Do It" project can be found at www.dreamit-doit.com.