John Kennedy, Chief Operating Officer, contributed this for PNC Business Insights
Over 30 years ago, I started hearing a mantra that has maintained itself for decades: ”Manufacturing is dead in the USA.” The problem is that this statement is “just plain” wrong, yet many – including school counselors and parents – have heeded its dire message.
Luckily for all of us, the manufacturing sector didn’t listen to them. Yes, the industry has changed, but for the better, including the emergence of smaller, more flexible, more responsive firms. These companies employ teams of extremely capable and adaptable people who make positive use of all assets available to them, such as higher technologies and innovational techniques that reduce the time and cost to market, thus making us more globally competitive.
Simply put, the manufacturing industry is not dead but is, rather, growing in alternative ways. There are fewer large firms, but that has not decreased our impact. The United Nations (and most other major surveys) still lists the USA among the top manufacturers in the world … ahead of Japan, Germany, Canada, Korea and many others. This isn’t to say that we don’t need to expand our efforts in this area, but it certainly dispels the “death myth.”
How does all of this equate to the needs of the workforce? We need more workers in manufacturing at all levels. This includes senior management, finance, sales, marketing, purchasing, shipping/transportation and engineering, as well as highly trained line workers. College, technical school and OJT programs take note: Step up – we need you!
When you compare income levels, you will find that manufacturing is a very solid and competitive performer. In New Jersey alone, the average annual compensation is around $90,000 per annum. Plus, for every manufacturing job, another “three-plus” positions are created in support of the industry. These are all positives for us.
Our manufacturers have done their job. Now it’s time for change from the rest of us…