Manufacturing Matters



Manufacturing requires a variety of resources and skillsets to produce quality products. Engineering, research and development, business development, sales and marketing, logistics and transportation; it’s a complex industry. Workforce challenges, training, upskilling efforts, and process improvements are always on the mind of any business leader. To ensure New Jersey manufacturers can keep up with all these complexities, NJMEP is highlighting a new manufacturing theme every month! The fourth quarter of the year showcased Cybersecurity, Apprenticeships, and R&D Tax Credits. 


Cybersecurity continues to be a massive concern for the nation. Each day brings about new headlines featuring cyber-attacks from foreign governments, independent cyber criminals, or organized syndicates. Attacks on critical digital infrastructure and databases continue to increase. Manufacturers are a prime target. Most manufacturing operations are small or medium sized. Large businesses like Lockheed Martin or Boeing rely on contractors to produce many of the components that go into their products. This creates a challenge when it comes to remaining cyber secure. If a supplier is further down in the supply chain, they can pose an immediate risk to national security. Once they’re infected, they can unknowingly pass on malware to their customers. The Department of Defense created new rules and regulations based on the NIST 800-171 framework that all DoD contractors will need to follow to mitigate this risk.

October was the ideal month to bring attention to this critical theme. Manufacturing Day provided a platform to highlight the importance of Cybersecurity in the manufacturing industry. DoD contractors may be required to follow new guidelines, but the fact that cyber-attacks could cost any business millions of dollars cannot be overlooked. Every manufacturer will benefit by adding a cybersecurity plan and procedures to their business strategy. 


National Apprenticeship Week is celebrated every November but this year called for an entire month. 2020 had a devastating impact on many apprenticeship programs since COVID-19 created countless challenges with large gatherings. Apprenticeships provide manufacturers with an invaluable foundation of industry-relevant knowledge. Much of that experience comes from hands-on work or engaging with an instructor. However, the value of apprenticeship is too important to keep on hold. Workforce development had to continue forward and November was a month to celebrate that flexibility. It was a time to address the next steps forward for the industry and workforce development in New Jersey 

NJMEP hosted two unique National Apprenticeship Month events with a focus on the value of these upskilling opportunities for the industry, employer, and the individual. The events highlighted COVID-compliant apprenticeship strategies as well as reviewing the current state of the talent pipeline and creating ways to improve in 2021.  

The entire industry came together to celebrate apprenticeships in November. Not only were manufacturers attending these vitally important events, New Jersey legislators were involved, too. Bolstering the manufacturing talent pipeline through apprenticeships, requires close collaboration between industry, government, and education. Thought-leaders and academics from all over the state came out in support of these programs and the value they offer to students. New Jersey has taken tremendous strides forward but there is still plenty of work left to be done 


Nearly every manufacturing business takes part in research and development. Manufacturers are at the forefront of progress, touching nearly every industry imaginable. When a manufacturing operation improves a process, the entire supply chain benefits. This is one of the reasons why R&D tax credits are available to these businesses.  

New Jersey manufacturing businesses can qualify for R&D Tax credits. A facility doesn’t need to necessarily have a cleanroom or a material science expert on staff to take advantage of this program. Manufacturers of all kinds perform qualifiable R&D functions without even realizing. December was a time to understand how businesses can start benefiting from R&D tax credits. Businesses could be owed substantial credits. Learning more about R&D tax credits and seeing if a business qualifies is a fantastic way to start the new year. 

Each month NJMEP will continue to celebrate one of the many themes and topics that embody manufacturing. Follow along with the Manufacturing Monthly Theme on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn by following @NJMEP. Share your thoughts about the topic or ask questions on how these topics may impact your business. It’s vital the manufacturing community continues to collaborate and move forward as a whole. 

This article first appeared in Manufacturing Matters! Download your complimentary copy of New Jersey’s manufacturing magazine, today.

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