Manzullo: Education key to turning tide in U.S. manufacturing

August 2, 2006

Education is the key to turning the tide in U.S. manufacturing.

That's the message Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., spread at a visit to the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl.® (FMA), on Aug. 2 to talk about the state of manufacturing.

Bolstering the domestic manufacturing industry hinges in part on becoming aware of the agencies involved in manufacturing, what their capabilities are, and what types of projects they have accomplished. This information might help all manufacturers across the country compete better.

Another key, Manzullo said, is training. "You need to train to the job that's open and teach the person you pick for the job that particular application."

But a more daunting task is changing the mindset of U.S. society, which promotes service-oriented jobs over those that involve working with your hands. This trend started some 55 years ago when someone first suggested that children must have better jobs than their fathers who worked in manufacturing, he said.

"This [mindset] has destroyed the manufacturing industry," Manzullo said. "Society says that if you can't sit behind a desk, there's no place for you in this nation. This has separated the people who like to work with their hands from those who don't want to."

Manzullo said that teaching children when they're young is important, as is educating their parents and school guidance counselors.

"Take kids to machine shops and shows. You have to show them what this machine is doing. All the stuff' that's really interesting to them is there," Manzullo said, adding that earning school credit for such visits is important too. "There are opportunities to be creative and make machines that make things that satisfy people."

According to Manzullo, hopping on a plane to Washington isn't the best way to make a meaningful impact on government regulations and legislative change. Instead, he said, it's more useful to invite your elected representatives to your manufacturing facility to show them what you do and what you need.

"Don't go to Washington to train your member of Congress. Introduce your congressmen to manufacturing," he said.

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