November 8, 2011
Concerned for the future of manufacturing jobs, more than 150 leaders of businesses, community colleges, and workforce development organizations joined with The White House, U.S. Army Reserves, the Gates Foundation and others in addressing models to improve the skills gap and the public perception of manufacturing at the fifth annual Manufacturing Summit, on October 27, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Manufacturers and training organizations from Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona took the stage to discuss training programs they have already put in place and encouraged others to do the same. In opening the Summit, Daniel Bangser, Switzerland's Trade Commissioner and Director North America for Investment, said "Today is all about jobs, investing in education and training — and modeling the Swiss system of apprenticeship which has proven to be successful over many years."
The Honorable Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of Labor, returned for a third Summit and was pleased to report that in the past year 112 new apprenticeship programs were established across the country. However, she renewed her previously issued call to action to promote the true sophisticated nature of manufacturing today and its "rebirth in the 21st Century."
Speakers and audience alike urged support for national standards for apprentices in the US – like those created by The National Institute for Metalworking Skills and endorsed by The National Association of Manufacturers — which would help alleviate the skills shortage and shore up the jobs pipeline within the manufacturing sector.
Collectively, leaders and educators recognized that students must be reached at the earliest moment possible. Speaking for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Margot Daniels-Tyler emphasized, "The talent is here. It is a matter of finding it." Dr. Tyler issued a challenge to the audience by asking, "How many of you are mentoring a 7th or 8th grader?"
Major General Keith Thurgood, Deputy Commanding General, Support of The U.S. Army Reserves, reported on The Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces, where more than ten thousand returning veterans have registered to leverage their military training and experience with employers in the civilian job market.
"Find ways to build the future," added Don Graves, Executive Director of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. As he offered his report from the White House, Graves said, "The issues, the ideas you are discussing are of the utmost importance. Without growing the manufacturing sector, without growing jobs, this economy will fail." Reminding the audience, Graves explained the recent 17 tax cuts for small businesses and state credit initiatives.
Why are the Swiss interested in the U.S. manufacturing sector? Daniel Kung, CEO of OSEC Business Network Switzerland explained, "As the second largest foreign investor in the U.S. manufacturing sector, Switzerland is firmly committed to supporting American manufacturing,"