Christine Furstoss of General Electric’s Global Research Center called
for integrating more small and medium-sized manufacturers into industry
supply chains since a manufacturing revival “will require a new kind of
ecosystem.” A greater focus in new approaches like “additive
manufacturing” using thin-film deposition, for example, will help in
scaling up a new manufacturing ecosystem, Furstoss said.
we’re very sequential” in how products are manufactured,” she added. “We
need to change that paradigm to make it a non-sequential process.”
corporate executives here like Boeing Research and Technology’s Matthew
Ganz acknowledged that the aircraft maker has been “hindered” by
separating its design and manufacturing operations. Boeing is now in the
process of reuniting design and manufacturing while promoting younger
engineers with strong design skills. “We grab them by the arm and pull
them up the [organizational] chart,” Ganz stressed.
The other part of the manufacturing equation is
educating a new generation of skilled workers capable of driving a
design-oriented manufacturing sector. An “all-hands-on-deck” approach
that links companies, trade unions and community colleges is seen as one
of the best approaches to reinvigorating the sector, corporate
executives and educators agreed.
Community colleges “have been
excellent partners and a critical cog” in training the next generation
of manufacturing workers, said Carrie Houtman, public policy manager at
Dow Chemical Co. Dow CEO Andrew Liveris along with MIT President Susan
Hockfield head an Advanced Manufacturing Partnership unveiled by the
White House last June.
A new approach to training manufacturing
workers called “stackable credentials” is being pioneered by
California’s community college system. Van Ton-Quinlivan, the system’s
vice chancellor for workforce development, described the approach as
earning course certificates that can be “stacked” in order meet
manufacturer’s requirements for new employees. Each stack represents an
For example, Ton-Quinlivan explained, an
engineering student hoping to work in the energy technology market could
gain both pre- and post-sales certificates, allowing the newly minted
engineer to implement an energy program that a company has just sold.
The modular education and training program is designed to provide
students with the skills employers want now, while allowing students to
“stack” other courses that would lead to undergraduate or graduate
The California official also put the onus on
manufacturers to play a more active role in training future workers. She
said community colleges are motivated to deliver the skills companies
need, but companies must be more specific about what required and
desired skills they are seeking in new employees.
widespread complaints here about regulatory red tape and the lack of tax
incentives needed to promote manufacturing, the former chairman of
the House Science Committee said the revival of U.S. manufacturing
ultimately comes down to training more skilled workers. “You can have
all the tax and regulatory reform you want,” Bart Gordon told an
audience of technology company executives, “but you still have to have a
skilled workforce” to compete in global markets.
Related "Rebuild America" links:
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Rebuilding America: Really? Have we given up?
Rebuilding America: Would Kurzarbeit work here?
Rebuilding America: Don't teach to the test
Rebuilding America: Proposals emerge to fix 'dysfunctional' R&D tax credit
Rebuilding America: Promoting outreach