Manufacturing Industry Needs Education, Not Nostalgia

Invest in Human Capital Through Industrial Training

Economists are nostalgic for the Golden Age of American manufacturing. But times have changed – we must invest in human capital through industrial training to see new growth.

American economists can be as nostalgic as fans re-watching “The Bodyguard” or recalling dozens of New Year’s Eves with “the world’s oldest teenager.” Some of us are awash with a sense of loss for Whitney Houston and Dick Clark. Well, some economists can’t help but long for America’s manufacturing prime—that era from the 1950s to the 1970s when the economy was robust and inflation was a mere blip. Jobs sprouted like weeds, income levels were strapped to rocket ships and the words ‘Made in America’ meant something.

Unfortunately, economists touting a return to the golden age of American manufacturing are somewhat mistaken, but their wistfulness snagged the attention of yet another president.

President Obama continues efforts to jumpstart American manufacturing in hopes that factory jobs will start growing on trees. He’s made some impact, but not nearly enough. Finance professor and international trade expert Jeffrey Bergstrand says the manufacturing decline cannot be reversed. It can only be stabilized. To be frank, labor costs in the U.S. will never compete with Latin America and parts of Asia. Low-technology manufacturing will never be what it was. And high-tech goods manufacturing—like iPads and iPhones—requires education, technical knowledge, industrial safety training and beyond.

As Bergstrand points out, the industry doesn’t need investment and support, the factory workforce needs investment and support. We need to invest in human capital by educating workers with basic teaching like industrial safety training. Specific skills can be learned, sharpened, retained and passed on, but only with a program that starts with fundamentals. Unemployment doesn’t just cripple our economy; it cripples our workers by depreciating their skills over time. Manufacturing high-tech goods will create employment opportunity. But that changes nothing if our workers aren’t ready.

Complex products that require research, development and widespread industrial aptitude can offer vast job potential. But if our unemployed don’t have the education levels and skillsets to match, the opportunity fizzles. Better training means managers can meet plant safety considerations and satisfy customer demand because of increased output and improved processes. Giant manufacturers like Boeing and the stimulus-revived U.S. automakers wouldn’t be reporting such success (or creating jobs) without investing in both plant safety training and factory worker safety training.

Can factories replenish the 6 million jobs lost since 2000? Probably not. But as economic advisor Gene Sperling stated in his speech at the Conference on the Renaissance of American Manufacturing about President Obama’s industrial policy, investments in human capital and education are non-negotiable. The middleclass is stagnating along with American manufacturing, but nostalgia won’t conjure jobs or income growth.

It’s time to change the game. Start by arming the manufacturing industry with employees bursting with industrial training.

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Save and Protect Your Money Via Security Guard Training

To protect your business assets while saving money, utilize security guard training through online courses and customized curriculums.

Regardless of the industry, field, or nature of the business, we’re obligated to protect our assets and ensure that rules and procedures are being followed at all times. Many companies are turning to digital HD surveillance systems to monitor the workplace, but a team of skilled, reliable security guards will serve you better than the fastest, clearest cameras. Organizations can hire their own security team, or contract out and utilize the services of private security companies. And there are scores of qualified security guards looking for work, right? Wrong.

The lackluster jobs report in March revealed the large pool of unskilled laborers hasn’t gotten much smaller. People are looking for work, but many keep running into the brick wall of ‘not enough experience’ for the available positions, security guards included. The discouraging unemployment rate—which dropped a whole 0.1 percent from 8.3 to 8.2—is only aggravated by a lack of qualified workers. To make matters worse, the still-weak economy has many businesses unable to afford the quality security guard training needed to educate new security teams.

However, some companies hold onto their purse strings with an iron fist worthy of Margaret Thatcher and manage to hire and train new officers. Many adult learners are already privy to this secret: online classes. Security guard training via online courses guarantees a well-trained team and cost-savings. The alternative to using online security guard courses is paying for an in-house instructor, and depending on the number of new recruits and what specific courses they need, in-house training can cost you a first-born child.

Not only is online training cheaper, it can be customized for your company, facility, procedures, and individual knowledge levels. If some guards are familiar with emergency situations and handling bomb threats but can’t write a concise report, they can take private security training courses focusing on communication skills, writing field notes and drafting reports. Simultaneously, other hires can brush up on conducting proper preliminary investigations and how to work well with the local law enforcement community.

Security officer training must also be tailored to your region since security guard state requirements vary from state to state. For instance, Florida requires that each member of a security team have a “Class D” security license with 40 hours of training licensed by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. If you’re not well versed on the security requirements for your state, you can trust that online training will incorporate them into the curriculum.

When your livelihood, property, and business are at stake—don’t just hope your security team has what it takes. It might be time to reevaluate: is your security foolproof?

Work Toward Smarter Power Grid With T&D Training

The Federal government is making decisive moves toward clean, sustainable energy and biofuels, but the workforce has yet to catch up.

Last year, President Obama took action to help solve two of America’s most pressing problems: rising unemployment and the energy crisis. The accelerated construction of seven electric transmission lines that began in 2011 is expected to transform the nation’s electric system, give the public more energy choices, and create thousands of jobs.

As Cyprus discovered when one of its power plants caused the power grid to collapse and left the entire island without electricity for hours, a minor glitch at one station can unleash a chain of malfunctions at other power plants. To avoid similar outages and grid failures in the U.S.—like the cascading power failures in 2003—President Obama’s energy transmission initiative will modernize the grid to make it safer and more secure. Mid-March of this year, the president, the Department of Agriculture, and the Energy Department also agreed on significant funding to support research and development of advanced biofuels and other bio-based products. The Federal government is making decisive moves, but the workforce has yet to catch up.

Now that construction of the transmission lines is underway and new jobs are emerging, there aren’t as many skilled laborers to devour the opportunities. Smarter electric grids will help the growth of clean energy industries and biofuels, which will lead to eventual cost-savings for consumers, but a qualified workforce is the first step. Regulating and distributing electrical power via transmission lines is critical to an efficient infrastructure, and some are turning to electrical transmission training to give new hires the skillsets they need.

In fact, according to OSHA, over 3,000 workers successfully completed transmission and distribution training in 2010. Not only does T&D training give workers in need the means to fill available jobs, it helps lower the number of on-the-job accidents and fatalities. Safety procedures are a huge component of electric distribution training, with specific lessons about high-voltage line safety, electrical grounding, and other electric or construction-related hazards.

As finance and energy columnist John Kemp  writes, “the grid is only as strong as its weakest link and its capacity to react to failures once they happen.” If workers don’t have the competency to detect disturbances quickly enough, entire states and regions (or islands) can wake up to no power. New monitoring units have been installed to help identify and isolate problems on individual lines and specific zones, but the data alone will not guarantee a more secure grid. Operations and procedure will have to be improved as well, and given the lack of ready T&D skills, electric transmission training might be the solution.

One thing is for sure—President Obama can’t solve unemployment by creating highly technical jobs without considering if enough of the unemployed have the training, knowledge, or experience to meet the demand.

Factories Fret Over Shortage of Skilled Workers

CiNet Blog 8

Manufacturers are scouring for skilled workers and coming up short. More and more plant owners are resorting to industrial training to cope.

As American factories see a vital upsurge in business, they’re finally delivering jobs to a public parched by unemployment. But manufacturers aren’t celebrating. Plant owners keep running into the same problem: they’re not finding the skilled labor they need from the American workforce.

CNN Money reports an influx of customer orders for domestic manufacturers, but the lack of skilled workers is a growing problem. Specifically, positions like manual machinists, quality control inspectors, and computer control technicians are in serious demand. When managers grasp at straws and sputter in hiring qualified workers, factory training becomes the only back up. The shortage of fundamental skill-sets—as one plant owner puts it, “young Americans just don’t consider manufacturing to be a sexy vocation”—is driving up the need for industrial workforce training.

Retirement cycles are pushing Baby Boomers out, but there aren’t trained factory workers waiting to take their place anymore. Manufacturers cannot stay competitive without preserving the knowledge of their existing workers. Transferring knowledge and skills can be difficult during the hiring transition, and industrial workforce training protects collected knowledge and passes it on.

Retirement isn’t the only reason factories are scrambling. Over the last several decades, the U.S. has outsourced many of its manufacturing jobs. The lake of available, talented workers became more of a puddle. But recovery is slow; current machinists, for instance, continue to log significant overtime. Some report an income bump of up to $40,000 as a result. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says annual earnings for factory workers averaged around $73,000 in 2009, and the number keeps rising with demand.

Warehouse training could help put an end to the outsourcing of American jobs. After all, outsourcing has only led to fewer American-made goods, scarcer jobs, and less economic zeal. But despite the masses of unemployed adults, factories need to be somewhat selective about who they hire. The technical component of much manufacturing work prevents just anyone from learning the trade. Like any skill, it helps to have an aptitude for it. But manufacturing plant training can turn relevant talent or knowledge into skills suited for factories.

Factories are only getting more sophisticated because they must compete globally. Currently, America is sitting in a favorable position for exports and global manufacturing. Economist Mark Perry says the U.S. is responsible for one-fifth of the world’s manufacturing output, and China’s “low-wage advantage” is shrinking as foreign wages increase. Plus, growing export markets are making more room for American products, and American firms are seeing more opportunity as the production of goods in developing countries becomes less profitable—like China.

But taking advantage of this upswing in American manufacturing hinges on finding skilled labor to keep up with production. If your talent pool has dried up, consider quenching unemployment by arming new workers with industrial workforce training.

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