Enterprise Minnesota Magazine - June 2012
HELPING MANUFACTURERS GROW PROFITABLY
Preparing for the Future
A large and growing collection of new market conditions suggest American manufacturers are poised to make a roaring economic comeback. But each of these favorable conditions is balanced by manufacturers’ growing anxiety that they won’t have access to an adequate number of qualified workers to meet the increasing demand.
Manufacturing is benefiting from the nation’s economic turnaround, even if it may be a little slow. The U.S. Labor Department reports that from February 2010 to February 2012, U.S. manufacturers added jobs at a faster pace than the rest of the economy.
It is easy to see why. Smart manufacturers used the downturn to bring leaner, more agile efficiencies to their sectors as well as their shop floors. OEMs are reassessing their early affection for the low-cost foreign suppliers and increasingly are home-shoring those relationships, to regain more control of quality, proprietary security and improved turnaround times.
Here in Minnesota, our established manufacturing environment is especially favorable for growth. Minnesota’s 8,000 manufacturing companies (5,200 of which are in the metro area) account for 15 percent of the state’s jobs and 18 percent of its wages. The sector’s $1,120 average weekly wage -- about $58,000 per year – is a 22 percent multiple over the average weekly wage across all industries. And our State of Manufacturing® poll revealed that 82 percent of manufacturing executives are confident in the future of their firms.
The poll also revealed that concern over lack of qualified workers has doubled among manufacturing executives between 2011 and 2012. Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development reports that in the fourth quarter of 2011, there already were 4,748 vacant full-time jobs in Minnesota’s manufacturing industry – more than any other industry.
This issue of Enterprise Minnesota magazine highlights what Minnesota is doing to meet this challenge. We feature the proactive collaboration between manufacturers and educators to cultivate a new talent pool (page 16). We show how Minnesota State University-Moorhead is helping technical degree graduates earn their B.S. in Operations Management in two years instead of four (page 8). And most encouraging of all, we get key insights about the future of workforce training in an insightful Q&A with MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone, who has launched a statewide listening tour to ensure MnSCU courses teach the skills manufacturing companies need, both today and in the future (page 12).
In this same thematic vein, I recently testified about Minnesota’s response to manufacturing’s ongoing shortage of qualified workers before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion. Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the subcommittee, wisely uses the bully pulpit of Congress to emphasize the needs of manufacturing that don’t necessarily require legislation. She understands that our success depends in part on introducing the needs and opportunities of the next generation of manufacturing to America’s teachers, students and their parents as the clean, high-tech, high-paying career it has become.
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