Joseph Smith spent 20 years in the military, beginning as a mechanic working on Apache helicopters and serving for most of his career as a maintenance supervisor in the U.S. Army. Today, he’s a maintenance unit supervisor based in Davenport, Iowa, at Arconic—a worldwide light metals manufacturer creating products for sectors from aerospace to consumer electronics.
Initially, Smith didn’t know how he’d adapt to civilian life after two decades in the military, but he was immediately impressed with The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program, which aims to connect manufacturers with highly qualified candidates and offer transitioning service members manufacturing-related training and support, creating a pipeline between the military and manufacturing.
“I was trying to decide what I wanted to do after the military,” said Smith. “I was looking into the different programs and apprenticeships the army offered, and once I got to the description of Heroes MAKE America, I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
Smith grew up interested in how things are made. “I used to watch that How It’s Made series on TV,” he said. For him, his new job makes sense. He still enjoys watching how aluminum is made from raw material and seeing it become a finished product like the wing of an airplane.
“There’s so much that goes into the products that we use and the things we see on a daily basis,” he said.
Smith has been impressed by the similarities between his role in the military and his current position. While the transition to civilian life could have been challenging after two decades in the military, he immediately found manufacturing was uniquely suited to his skills.
“I could almost instantly tell,” Smith said. “The way that the maintenance portion of Arconic runs was very similar to, day-to-day, how working in the military was.”
Smith encourages other veterans to consider making the same move he did and emphasizes the number of jobs available to skilled workers.
“There are a lot of people who don’t realize how valuable a career in manufacturing can be,” says Smith. “Especially for a veteran coming out of the military, they don’t realize how in-demand their skills can be. Everything you do can be translated into a manufacturing career. And manufacturing employers are hiring like crazy.”
Learn more about the Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program.
Manufacturing businesses have long been proponents of equality in the workplace. As legislation to codify protections for LGBT individuals passes through the House of Representatives, the National Association of Manufacturers joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other members of the business community in advocating its passage, forging coalitions and providing congressional testimony.
Introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate in March, the Equality Act includes federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the existing framework of the Civil Rights Act, which already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color or sex. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that no person can face legal discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, setting a clear federal standard to enable individuals to succeed based on their abilities and qualifications to perform a job.
“Employers understand the importance of creating an environment in which the very best people can succeed based on merit,” Patrick Hedren, NAM vice president, labor, legal and regulatory policy, said. “At the same time, manufacturers know that discrimination in any form is antithetical to the values that we work to uphold every day: equality of opportunity, individual liberty, free enterprise and competitiveness.”
In March, more than 40 other industry associations rallied to support the Equality Act, providing an important boost for the groundbreaking legislation. In the weeks since, manufacturing representatives have testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and signed a coalition letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services calling for the Act’s passage. As Congress considers the way forward, manufacturers have made clear that they intend to advocate forcefully on behalf of the legislation and uphold their commitment to workers of every gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Equality Act creates a clear federal standard that matches the sentiments manufacturers already share: gender identity and sexual orientation have no impact on an employee’s abilities and discrimination is not welcome on the manufacturing floor,” Hedren said. “We look forward to working with Congress as this important legislation moves ahead.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the 2016 Persuader Rule:
Manufacturers have fought for this victory for many years in the courts, in Congress and with two administrations, using the full weight of our policy, government relations and legal teams, said Timmons. The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action was able to halt the rule in court in 2016.And in 2017, the Trump administration, as part of its broader regulatory relief agenda, thankfully began the process of unwinding the rule. This overreaching rule threatened to impose serious burdens on manufacturers and upend employee–employer communications. Now manufacturers are relieved that this threat to workplace communications is finally and officially off the books. Commonsense steps like this to rein in onerous regulations are a major reason why manufacturers are reporting record-high business optimism.
The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) is the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts and engages in a range of activities, including direct party litigation and operating a robust amicus program, as well as educating manufacturers about emerging legal trends. The MCLA is led by NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly and NAM Vice President of Litigation and Deputy General Counsel Peter Tolsdorf. More information on the MCLA can be found here.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.