News

Workforce

Heroes MAKE America Keeps Growing

Get the Latest News

Get involved

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

Get the Latest News

Get involved

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

Get the Latest News

Get involved

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.”

Workforce

Creators Wanted Comes to Columbus

Get the Latest News

Get involved

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

Get the Latest News

Sign up here

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

Get the Latest News

Get involved

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.”

Workforce

MFG Day 2021 Is a Hit!

Get the Latest News

Get involved

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.

Business Operations

A Visit to Big Ass Fans

Get the Latest News

Get involved

Yes, Big Ass Fans is their real name. The Kentucky-based manufacturer makes fans, evaporative coolers, and controls for industrial, agricultural, commercial, and residential use, and the eye-catching name isn’t the only thing that makes them distinctive.

NAM Director of Photograph David Bohrer recently went to the BAF facilities in Lexington, Kentucky to take a closer look.

When you arrive at the campus, a herd of yellow donkeys on the lawn serves as a reminder that this is no ordinary company.

For a place called Big Ass Fans, the facility requires some very small and careful work. Here an employee gets up close with a circuit board.

Here, an employee is putting the finishing touches on the drive for a large industrial fan model.

As promised, the company does make some Big Ass Fans. Here, an employee works on the product that gives the business its name.

Hang on, maybe it’s this product?

We spoke too soon.

BAF says: “We take great pride in making products that deliver comfort to people worldwide,” said BAF Public Relations Director Alex Risen. “It means a lot as a manufacturer knowing everything we touch is going to help someone do what they do a little more comfortably.”

Workforce

MFG Day 2021 Will Inspire Next Generation of Makers

Get the Latest News

Get involved

It’s finally here: MFG Day 2021!

Today The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s workforce development and education partner, officially kicks off the ninth annual day dedicated to inspiring the next generation of U.S. manufacturers.

Not just a day: Despite its name, the initiative will in fact run the entire month of October, and will feature nationwide, manufacturer-planned events aimed at giving students, parents and educators the chance to tour manufacturing facilities both virtually and in person.

  • Events include factory tours, expos, open hours, job fairs and community gatherings—you can find a complete list here.
  • Currently, there are more than 400 events registered on the MI website. Find out what’s happening in your area and sign up today!

Why it matters: As of July, the manufacturing industry had close to 900,000 open jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If the trend continues, this deficit could grow to 2.1 million by 2030, according to a recent study by the MI and Deloitte. It’s never been more urgent to get people interested in rewarding, lifelong manufacturing careers—for their own sake and the country’s.

  • The matter is of such importance that President Biden issued a proclamation declaring October 1 National Manufacturing Day, calling it a day on which “we … recognize the importance of our Nation’s manufacturers to every aspect of our lives.”

What you can do: The MI has a host of resources for those of you who want to spread the word and get involved. These include: 

  • Resources for students: The MI has unveiled a website for future creators, the students who might be considering manufacturing careers. Check it out or pass it on to a student you know.
  • Resources for manufacturers: Manufacturers who are currently planning an event, or considering one for later this year, we’ve got you covered! Check out this library of planning resources, including recordings of our four-part MFG Day planning series.
  • Become a sponsor: If you can’t host this year, why not sponsor the effort? View this year’s prospectus to learn more about how you can become an MFG Day sponsor and receive additional support.

And don’t forget Creators Wanted! The Creators Wanted immersive experience also launches this month, with its first tour stop in Columbus, Ohio coming next week. It will be open from October 4 to 7 at Mitchell Hall at Columbus State Community College. And don’t worry; the experience will take place under stringent COVID-19 safety protocols.

  • At the mobile experience, you’ll be able to enter an Escape Room-like challenge; get hands-on with technology demonstrations; meet creators who are making a difference and excited to share their career experiences; and access exclusive resources for manufacturing career pathways.
  • Reserve your own spot or get some for young people of your acquaintance here.

 The last word: As MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee says, “MFG Day provides manufacturers from coast to coast the opportunity to open their doors and highlight the work of the people who make things in America, which will help us recruit skilled talent and reach next-generation manufacturing employees.” In other words—don’t miss it!

Policy and Legal

Manufacturer Presses Congress on Workforce Development

Get the Latest News

Get involved

 

Manufacturers are working hard to create apprenticeship and workforce development programs that can help strengthen our industry, close the skills gap and prepare new workers for exciting, fulfilling careers.

Last week, Leah Curry, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, urged Congress to take up these priorities when she testified to the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workforce Safety. Curry is also an honoree of The Manufacturing Institute’s 2013 STEP Ahead Awards, which recognizes outstanding women leaders in the industry, and a longstanding member of the MI Board of Advisors.

In her remarks, Curry drew on her own experiences to illustrate how apprenticeship programs can help prepare workers to take on a new career. Here are some of the highlights.

Delivering early exposure: “I came across the idea of pursuing technology as a career by chance after already embarking on a serious course of post‐secondary studies. If I was exposed to technical or STEM programs before college, I would have landed on my pathway much [sooner]. Since 2010, Toyota has provided $3.5 million to 184 K–12 schools in Indiana and across the country to implement Project Lead the Way programs that provide students with more STEM education and career pathways.”

Emphasizing hands-on experience: “Combining classroom learning with on‐the‐job experiences is a powerful way to learn, particularly in manufacturing. In states where Toyota operates manufacturing plants, Toyota has collaborated with local community colleges to develop the highly successful advanced manufacturing technician (or AMT) program.”

  • “Nationally about 400 employers pool talent from 32 chapters in 12 states in what is known collectively as the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education or FAME USA. FAME USA is now led by The Manufacturing Institute, and it is quickly becoming America’s premier homegrown manufacturing education network.”

Promoting diversity: “We cannot overstate the importance of intentionality around bringing historically underrepresented people into STEM careers. Toyota is collaborating with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity on its ‘Make the Future’ program, which provides tools to help educators, counselors, administrators and recruiters increase the participation and persistence of women and other historically underrepresented student groups in education paths that prepare them for advanced manufacturing careers.”

The path forward: In her testimony, Curry emphasized two critical policy recommendations.

  • Combine education and training: First, Curry urged Congress to consider workforce development policies in combination with education policies. “If education policies are not flexible enough to allow students to explore various pathways,” said Curry, “students may ultimately bypass even the best workforce development opportunities.”
  • Reauthorize WIOA: Second, she called for reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. “In doing so, the committee should continue to allow for greater private-sector participation in the workforce system,” said Curry. “The FAME USA system proves that employers want to and can drive workforce development to new heights.”

Learn more: Click here to find out more about the FAME USA program, founded by Toyota and now operated by the MI.

View More