Workforce

Heroes MAKE America Keeps Growing

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The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America hasn’t let COVID-19 slow it down. To the contrary, it has expanded and added new features in 2021 in order to prepare more members of the military community for manufacturing careers.

“The work we’re doing aligns so well with what our manufacturers are prioritizing,” says MI Vice President of Military and Veterans Programs Babs Chase. “We are continuing to serve a community that has sacrificed so much and will continue to sacrifice. We truly appreciate the manufacturers that are standing beside us.”

Growth during a pandemic: Heroes, which works with local technical colleges to provide certification and career-readiness preparation, increased its impact in the past year and has now placed graduates with more than 250 companies in 42 states.

  • Training programs at Fort Riley in Kansas, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Campbell in Kentucky continue to grow, and Heroes will soon launch a new training site in Georgia.
  • In August, Heroes graduated the first class of its new Fort Hood mechatronics training program, which combines electrical and mechanical engineering and computer technology with advanced manufacturing.

Going virtual: This month, thanks to the support of the Caterpillar Foundation, Heroes is officially launching a fully remote training program in a synchronous model that will incorporate hands-on simulations using virtual reality.

  • The new program is a partnership with Texas State Technical College and New York City–based tech startup TRANSFR, and will allow transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses to participate in Heroes regardless of their physical location—so long as they have access to Wi-Fi.

Connecting with Heroes: 2021 is also the second year of Heroes Connect, the program’s direct response to COVID-19. This virtual platform facilitates introductions between the manufacturing industry and military-community members seeking jobs.

  • In-person tours have always been a cornerstone of the Heroes program, and Heroes Connect provides another avenue for those essential introductions to manufacturing leaders and veterans already in the industry. Even as Heroes restarts in-person tours, Heroes Connect will remain a vital part of the initiative, says Chase.

As she put it, “Heroes Connect is continuing to break down barriers around physical location, showcasing manufacturers all across the country for Heroes participants as well as the greater military community.”

Diversity data: By the end of 2021, more than 625 students will have graduated since Heroes’ inception in 2018. These students are as diverse as the career opportunities available in manufacturing:

  • The graduates represent more than 136 different military occupational specialties.
  • Nearly half of all graduates (47%) come from minority populations.
  • Approximately 16% are women.
  • Only 47% of alumni have any post-secondary education.
  • Forty-one percent of graduates were in the military for 10 years or more.

Success stories: The Heroes program boasts too many success stories to recount in one place, but here are just two:

  • Former U.S. Marine Zachary Willis came to Heroes after health issues led to his departure from the military. “It’s been amazing,” said Willis, who earlier this year began a manufacturing job at Hodgdon Powder Company. “The ability to reach out and connect with other employers all around the country—from smaller companies to huge international corporations—is something you don’t see in very many places. I wish more people took advantage of programs like this.”
  • Then there’s Hugo Hinojosa, who served 22 years in the U.S. Army before starting the Heroes program. He now works as a business partner in the human resources division of WestRock Company, and says, “I’m working in a place where the values are in line with what I was brought up with in the military—integrity, respect, accountability and excellence.”

The final say: “For our team, serving the military population is crucial,” Chase said. “But equally vital is our service to manufacturers—and they recognize the value that this population brings to their teams.”

Workforce

NAM Launches Manufacturers Retirement & Savings Plan

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Are you looking for a retirement plan that fits your needs and workforce? There’s good news: the NAM is rolling out the Manufacturers Retirement & Savings Plan—a 401(k) plan designed specifically for manufacturers across the country.

The scope: The Manufacturers Retirement & Savings Plan is a multiple employer plan available to all NAM members, designed to cover more than 14,000 companies and associations. Companies of all sizes can participate, creating new financial opportunities and offering retirement security to the millions of men and women who make things in America.

The provider: The NAM selected Principal Financial Group® and HUB International LLC as the service providers. Principal Financial Group® is one of the largest retirement solutions providers in the United States, and HUB International is a leading North American insurance brokerage. Together, they will offer business owners and employees access to dedicated professionals who can offer guidance and assist with the day-to-day management of retirement plans.

The benefit: Offering benefits like 401(k) plans is a critical way for manufacturers to attract and retain talented employees, especially at a time of unprecedented job openings. But creating and operating a retirement plan can be expensive and time-consuming, imposing barriers for small and medium-sized companies. By creating an association-sponsored plan, the NAM is helping members across the board ensure efficiency, reduce risks and manage costs effectively all while improving retirement outcomes for employees and helping employers free up time and money. And with National Benefit Services engaged to administer the new plan, transitioning is simple as well.

What we’re saying: “Manufacturers want their employees to feel safe and secure about their financial well-being and to have confidence that they will be able to retire when they are ready,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “But operating a 401(k) plan can be challenging—especially for smaller companies. We can help with this—I’m proud that the NAM now offers our members access to best-in-class benefits for their teams.”

Learn more: Join us at one of two upcoming information sessions, Nov. 9, 2021 or Dec. 7, 2021.

Policy and Legal

NAM Sues SEC to Maintain Proxy Firm Oversight

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The NAM is stepping up to protect a hard-won victory on an issue critical to public company governance—oversight of proxy advisory firms.

The background: Proxy firms advise institutional investors (like retirement fund managers) on how to vote on the policies of the companies they invest in. The problem is that the two main proxy firms—ISS and Glass Lewis—have generally operated without any oversight, and as a result, their work has relied on questionable methodologies and ignored conflicts of interest. These issues have often caused problems for manufacturers and their shareholders given the power these firms wield.

  • Last year, following years of advocacy by the NAM, the Securities and Exchange Commission finalized a rule that provides targeted oversight of these firms. The rule requires that proxy firms disclose conflicts of interest and create procedures to give companies a chance to respond to their recommendations.

The problem: Following the change in presidential administrations, the SEC announced that it is taking steps to revise or rescind the rule that was finalized last year. On top of that, it has suspended enforcement of the rule during the review process and plans to prevent many provisions from going into effect as planned on Dec. 1.

Our move: The NAM is filing suit against the SEC for refusing to enforce the rule without going through the official process to change or replace it, as required under the Administrative Procedure Act. Agencies cannot set aside regulations they happen to disagree with, and the NAM is contending that the SEC has acted unlawfully by effectively rescinding the rule without inviting public comment on its impact on market participants, including manufacturers. Of course, the NAM also intends to fight any effort to revise or rescind the rule under normal procedures, but that comes later.

The stakes: If the NAM wins the suit, the SEC will have to leave the rule on the books until it comes up with substitute regulations through notice-and-comment rulemaking, and proxy firms will have to comply with the basic safeguards required under the rule.

The last word: “The SEC’s rule on proxy advisory firms was a victory for manufacturers, but also for accountability and transparency,” said NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly. “The NAM intends to stand up for this rule, to hold the SEC to its responsibilities and to ensure that manufacturers on the public market and manufacturing workers with retirement savings are protected from proxy firms’ outsized influence.”

Press Releases

Manufacturers Fight SEC’s About-Face on Proxy Advisory Rule

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers filed a complaint in federal court against the Securities and Exchange Commission for its nonenforcement of the lawfully adopted 2020 final rule on proxy advisory firms—unregulated third parties with outsized influence on shareholder votes and manufacturers’ corporate governance policies.

“The SEC is changing course, attempting to suspend a commonsense rule that enhances transparency into the work of proxy advisory firms without any opportunity for public comment by the NAM or anyone else,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “When the SEC finalized this reasonable, light-touch regulation, manufacturers strongly supported these necessary reforms because they protect the interests of manufacturing workers, retirees and everyday investors. The NAM Legal Center is filing suit to protect manufacturers from this unlawful about-face and to ensure that this rule stays on the books.”

Background:

The NAM has long advocated increased oversight of proxy advisory firms—little-known, unregulated entities that exert enormous influence over publicly traded manufacturers. These firms have significant conflicts of interest and issue error-filled, one-size-fits-all proxy voting recommendations that can impact the direction of a business and the value of investors’ shares. In July 2020, the SEC issued final regulations limiting proxy firms’ outsized influence, a move Timmons called a “long-sought, major win for the industry and millions of manufacturing workers.”

In October 2020, the NAM filed a motion to intervene in ISS v. SEC (ISS’s attempt to overturn the rule), followed by a motion for summary judgment outlining why the SEC’s lawful, reasonable and minimally invasive rule must be upheld. In June 2021, the SEC announced it was reviewing the rule and suspending enforcement thereof, at which point NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly made clear that the NAM would fight “any efforts to bypass the required notice-and-comment process to keep this lawfully issued rule on ice indefinitely.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers 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 12.4 million men and women, contributes $2.52 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 58% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Workforce

Creators Wanted Comes to Columbus

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The Creators Wanted campaign was created to recruit new talent, change perceptions about modern manufacturing and inspire the next generation of creators. Starting this week, the Creators Wanted Tour Live began visiting cities around the country to bring that message directly to Americans. The first stop: Columbus, Ohio.

The Tour Live features a series of escape rooms mounted on a mobile unit, with challenges that are intended to show participants how modern manufacturing actually works—and to be fun at the same time. During its four days in Columbus this week, more than 350 students got to participate, from Canal Winchester High School, Horizons Science Academy, Mechanicsburg School (Entertainment Tech), Sunrise Academy, Marysville Early College High School, Southwestern Career Academy and Millennium Community School.

The tour stop in Columbus also featured a number of exhibits and demonstrations, including opportunities to:

  • Meet and ask questions of associates at Honda, the tour’s official mobility sponsor, as well as see some of its cutting-edge vehicles;
  • Try out augmented reality technology from PTC;
  • Explore activations by The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Columbus State Community College and diversified metal manufacturer Worthington Industries;
  • Take part in a Creators Connect forum with creators at Honda, Abbott and Worthington Industries; and
  • Interact with Creators Connect, a new NAM and MI tool in beta testing, which matches people interested in manufacturing careers with pathways to achieve them.

A tour of the tour: The photos and videos from the Columbus events give you a taste of the excitement. Here, a few students begin the experience at the PTC AR demonstration:

Here are some students trying out the escape room and using the sort of creative thinking required for a manufacturing career:

Below, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons takes a look at one of the Honda automobiles that were on display.

The satisfied “smizing” of some successful manufacturers-in-training:

NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy Chrys Kefalas, and the chief strategist of the campaign, caught up with some students to see what they thought of the experience.

The short answer?

Awesome indeed.

The reception: The tour stop in Columbus created a splash, receiving coverage in the press and attention from state and U.S. officials. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) put in a plug for Creators Wanted, encouraging students and parents to check out the tour.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted spoke at one of the events, urging students to pursue creative careers:

Meanwhile, News 5 Cleveland, Cleveland.com (subscription) and ABC 6 Columbus covered the Creators Wanted stop, while Good Morning Columbus (FOX 28) and Good Morning Cleveland (ABC 5) broadcast segments about the events.

The reach: The digital and media campaign around the Columbus tour stop also had a big impact, with more than 404,000 impressions, 4,200 clicks and 111,000 video views. It’s also on its way to more than 10,000 email signups from individuals interested in manufacturing career paths.

The last word: As Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee said at one of the events, “The challenge is significant: we have nearly 900,000 open jobs in manufacturing today—a new record. The promise is real: there can be many more people earning great livings and creating our future working in manufacturing in the United States.”

Business Operations

A Manufacturer Goes Lean and Wins Big

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Consumer goods manufacturer Church & Dwight found that it needed to boost performance to meet customer demand. To meet this goal, it embarked on an ambitious Lean initiative at all of its 13 production facilities.

“We look at all challenges through the lens of Lean manufacturing—it’s the only way that we can operate,” said Bruno Silva, vice president of manufacturing operations.

What’s Lean? Researchers James Womack and Daniel Jones first defined the concept of Lean manufacturing as “a way to do more with less … while coming closer to providing customers exactly what they want.” Many manufacturers see mastering Lean as an essential springboard to operational initiatives like digital manufacturing and other advanced production practices.

Setting the stage: In developing its Lean program, Church & Dwight first held a weeklong leadership summit to decide on standards and expectations. The company’s leaders came up with a Lean assessment system with 16 standards and a definition for achievement at the gold, silver and bronze levels. But the essential part was ensuring frontline employees were driving improvement from the bottom up—not the other way around.

  • “This is not corporate pushing it down,” said Felipe Vilhena, director of Lean manufacturing – global operations. “We help workers overcome challenges and give them the right tools to do that. We created a mindset and expectation that improvements are part of the work.”

Putting it into practice: Initially, each worker was asked to list five potential improvements at his or her site, and then go out and make them. The company provided training and support to help with these fixes, while managers kept employees fully informed of their progress according to key indicators.

  • Workers formed self-directed teams and continued to seek out improvements, which they began making more and more frequently. Thanks to the trust and autonomy that employees were given, engagement and retention measurably increased at the same time.

Receiving recognition: The company’s achievements have received recognition from its peers in the industry. One of its top-performing facilities in Green River, Wyoming, earned the company a 2021 Manufacturing Leadership Award in the Operational Excellence category from the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council.

The last word: “It was important to create the right expectation and mindset,” Vilhena said. “From big to small improvements, we are seeing them happen every day.”

Workforce

Creators Wanted Unveils Interactive Game

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The NAM and the MI’s Creators Wanted initiative has rolled out a new online game for students, teachers, parents, guidance counselors and emerging workers nationwide. The “Making the Future” experience is a choose-your-own-adventure video that helps gamers think better of modern manufacturing.

The details: The experience aims to address misperceptions about the industry and to connect with today’s tech-savvy student and job seeker. With the ability to choose levels of difficulty and navigate the interactive experience differently based on choices and answers, gamers will bust myths, crack codes and solve problems to earn their badges as creators.

Familiar approach: The game is using the “learn by doing” philosophy at the core of the in-person Creators Wanted mobile experience to excite and educate potential manufacturers and individuals who influence career choices about the growth, reward and opportunity in the industry, as well as the talents and attributes that are a part of manufacturing careers.

Creators Wanted tour anywhere: “Where the mobile experience can’t be physically, we figured out a way to replicate it into a digital experience for anyone across the country to access,” said NAM Senior Vice President of Communications and Brand Strategy Erin Streeter. “We’ve designed this entire campaign to meet people where they are with the right messages and at the right times.”

Access point: The new interactive game is now live on the CreatorsWanted.org website. It represents another major development by the NAM and MI teams to broaden the reach and impact of the Creators Wanted campaign beyond in-person tour stops and COVID-19 crowd limitations.

Last word: “We’re sharing comprehensive online tools that not only get the next generation of talent excited but also teach them how to take the next step and become a manufacturer,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “These tools are ideal for manufacturers, teachers, parents, government officials … really anyone who wants to help kids and emerging workers see how they can create their future in America. We hope manufacturers will share these resources with education partners and their teams, so they can share with kids and job seekers.”

Business Operations

How PTC Onshape Helps Formlabs Print the Future

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The NAM’s Makers Series is an exclusive interview series featuring creators, innovators and trailblazers in the industry sharing their insights and advice. In this episode, you’ll meet Matt Lipsitz and Adam Lebovitz of Formlabs, who discuss how PTC Onshape helps Formlabs improve their 3D-printer design. Learn how PTC has helped Formlabs “try out new ideas that weren’t possible in the past.”

Workforce

MFG Day 2021 Is a Hit!

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MFG Day 2021 was a smashing success. This year, manufacturers throughout the nation hosted open houses, factory tours and job fairs—both on site and online—to introduce young people and others to the promise of modern manufacturing. And many companies and leaders took to social media to show their support and love for the industry. Here’s what we saw on Friday.

Presidential nod: On Sept. 30, President Biden proclaimed Oct. 1 to be National Manufacturing Day, to “commit to strengthening and supporting the American manufacturers and hardworking manufacturing employees of today as well as the manufacturers and workers of the future.”

State (and federal) support: At least 15 states issued their own Manufacturing Day proclamations, and more than 40 congressional representatives publicly marked the occasion.

Manufacturers in action: Hundreds of events took place across nearly all 50 states, both online and in-person.

Big support: MFG Day sponsors also marked the occasion:

In the news: Many local and national media outlets covered the day’s events. The coverage included an interview with NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” along with pieces and segments in Yahoo! Finance, The Times Leader and The Chattanoogan, as well as on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX affiliates nationwide.

More to come: “MFG Day” actually lasts for the entire month of October, so be sure to check out upcoming events at CreatorsWanted.org.

Press Releases

Manufacturers: China Is Not Following Through on Important Commitments Made in the 2020 U.S.–China “Phase One” Agreement

Washington, D.C. –  Following remarks today by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released this statement:

“China is not following through on important commitments made in the 2020 U.S.–China ‘Phase One’ agreement, and it also remains a hub of bad behaviors—from intellectual property theft to market-distorting industrial subsidies—that harm manufacturers and their employees here in the United States. Manufacturers agree with Ambassador Tai that we need a new, holistic and pragmatic approach to our relationship with China. We are pleased that the Biden administration’s approach reflects key priorities for manufacturers in the U.S., including holding China accountable on the ‘Phase One’ deal, allowing manufacturers to seek tariff relief, stepping up direct U.S. engagement with Chinese officials and working with our allies to ensure that the U.S. shapes the global rules for trade. We look forward to working with USTR on robust measures to ensure quick action in each of these areas to hold China accountable and to strengthen manufacturers and manufacturing workers in America.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers 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 12.4 million men and women, contributes $2.52 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 58% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

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