If we are to have a prosperous and more hopeful 2010, manufacturing must be on the forefront of economic discussions.
As January rolls around each year, we tend
to make resolutions with every intention on keeping them.
By February, however, most have faded away.
But if we want manufacturing
to emerge from what some call a depression and support the nation’s economic
recovery, then we need to go beyond the annual New Year’s resolutions, and set
a number of things into action.
Recent activity from the White House is
encouraging: the naming of Ron Bloom as senior counselor on manufacturing
policy, top manufacturers meeting with the President and the recent release of “A Framework for
Revitalizing American Manufacturing” indicate the rising importance of manufacturing.
However, if we are to have a prosperous and
more hopeful 2010, manufacturing must be on the forefront of economic
discussions. And not just inside the Washington, D.C., “beltway,” but also
across the country.
America - and Americans - should resolve to:
1.Change the manufacturing discussion to one that
focuses on looking forward rather than backwards. Let’s move beyond the
loss of repetitive assembly-line jobs, to helping the nation understand that
the U.S. manufacturing sector continues to be the world’s largest, and by
itself, represents the ninth largest economy in the world.
2. Explain how manufacturing is in a transformative
period where productivity is increasing rapidly, and requires a highly trained
work force. Emphasize that the industrial sector offers societal benefits
from creating wealth through research, innovation and product development,
which result in higher paying jobs.
3.Find ways to open up lines of credit to small and
medium manufacturers. Otherwise, manufacturers who survived the recession may
find themselves failing during the recovery and costing the nation even more
manufacturing jobs. Many of these companies are receiving purchase
orders, but are struggling to find the capital to invest in the equipment and
workers they need to sustain them through the development process.
4.Equip laid-off manufacturing practitioners with 21st
century skills. Even though there’s been a loss of 5 million manufacturing
jobs in the past decade, a recent survey revealed that one-third of
manufacturers still can’t find qualified, high-skilled employees for the jobs
that are available. Let’s get these people retrained so they can respond
to change and become a more agile work force.
5.Develop a self-sustaining energy policy. While
it’s great to see the support of alternative energy initiatives, we cannot
count on one energy sector to support all our needs. The U.S. needs to
evaluate all the sectors – from wind, solar, geo thermal and nuclear, to the
traditional oil and gas – so that industry can figure out innovative ways to
fill in the gaps.
ensure a prosperous New Year -and new decade - U.S. manufacturing must be at
the center of our economic recovery, or we run the risk that it plays out like
a well-intended New Year’s resolution - an idea without a well thought out