FAME Program Gives Student Jumpstart in Auto Career

Austin Wilhite comes from a woodworking family. But even a few years ago, when he was a teen working in his uncle’s framing business, Austin Wilhite couldn’t have imagined that an apprenticeship program would lead him to a career in maintenance and manufacturing. Today, in his role as a Multicraft Maintenance Technician at Toyota Alabama, he’s excited about the opportunities he has unlocked.

“I always enjoyed building stuff and fixing things with my hands,” said Wilhite. “But I didn’t even know this career was a possibility.”

As a top student in his high school Agriculture Education class, he was encouraged by a teacher to attend a meeting about the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME). Originally developed and refined by Toyota, stewardship of the FAME program has recently transitioned to The Manufacturing Institute, the education and workforce partner of the National Association of Manufacturers.

FAME trains students of all ages and backgrounds, from recent high school graduates to experienced manufacturing employees looking to advance their careers. FAME is an earn-and-learn apprenticeship where students spend time in the classroom and on the shop floor. After two years, students graduate with an Advanced Manufacturing Technician degree and no student debt. FAME chapters are currently operating in 13 states, and the Manufacturing Institute intends to further expand the program nationwide.

“It was a really good program,” said Wilhite. “You go to work and you see the things you’re learning about in school, but then you also get to see the more advanced work you’re headed into. You can see the change—at the beginning, you’ve never been in a plant or seen any of this stuff. And then all of a sudden, you’re able to understand how to troubleshoot and fix machines the proper way.”

Three years after graduating from FAME, Wilhite is a testament to what graduates of this program can accomplish. His new career has opened financial doors for him; the money he earned during the FAME apprenticeship helped him replace his car so that he could get to and from work reliably. The year he graduated, he was able to purchase a new house, and a year later, he bought a new truck.

“I’m the only person I know who, at 20 years old, was able to buy a new house,” said Wilhite. “The program is a commitment, but I’ve been able to reward myself for making that commitment. Without the program, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Wilhite is enthusiastic about his career prospects and proud of the new skills he has cultivated through the training he received in the FAME program.

“It’s a really good career,” said Wilhite. “Maintenance people are in really high demand. The program gives you the fundamentals of being able to work with your hands and fix things on your own. Plus, it’s a lot of problem-solving—and that’ll help you in your life.”

Learn more about the Manufacturing Institute’s FAME apprenticeship program.


Manufacturing Day Events Spur Workforce Interest

Led by The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, MFG Day helps showcase the reality of modern manufacturing careers to young people nationwide. By encouraging thousands of companies and educational institutions around the country to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders, the annual celebration, which began on October 4, kicked off a month full of exciting and inspirational events designed to recruit and inspire the next generation of manufacturing workers.

Here’s a glimpse inside two events:

In Greensboro, Georgia, Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee joined local students for a shop floor tour at Novelis, a producer of flat-rolled aluminum products and the world’s largest recycler of aluminum. Lee met with students, business leaders and community members to discuss the high-tech, well-paying opportunities in modern manufacturing and the growing number of open jobs in the industry.

“Manufacturers are looking for the best and brightest talent to join them,” said Lee. “Our industry is growing, but with that growth comes the challenge of recruiting and retaining new workers. Through MFG Day events across the country, we have the chance to connect with the next generation of manufacturers and give them a close-up view of an industry and technology they might never have seen before.”

At the Samsung Electronics Home Appliance (SEHA) facility in Newberry, South Carolina, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons spoke with local  students about modern manufacturing careers.

Timmons joined South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and students for a tour of the facility, giving the young people a view of the work being done in modern manufacturing.  Launched just two years ago, the facility currently employs over 800 full-time workers. By 2020, the company expects the facility to generate nearly 1,000 jobs, including advanced manufacturing positions.

“These kids are the future of manufacturing and the future of this country,” said Timmons. “I’m thrilled to be able to spend time with them, and to show them what this industry has to offer. They’ll build the future—and I want them to know that we’re excited to build it with them.”

By participating in MFG Day, manufacturers and educators are telling students, teachers and parents across the entire country “Creators Wanted.” Because there are 4.6 million jobs to fill between now and 2028, the NAM and the MI have launched an unprecedented campaign to take that message from coast to coast in 2020. To get involved, visit

Policy and Legal

Manufacturers Benefit From Trump’s Guidance Document Input Requirement

President Trump signed two executive orders this week that will require federal agencies to go through a process of public input when issuing major guidance documents, and will force agencies to make useful guidance documents more openly available for the public. That process of issuing notice and soliciting public input is similar to what agencies are required to follow when issuing regulations.

“This is serious, real regulatory reform and the NAM has lobbied for changes like these for years,” the National Association of Manufacturers’ Vice President of Labor, Legal and Regulatory Policy Patrick Hedren said. “These two new executive orders make the world of agency guidance more transparent, and they give manufacturers a seat at the table when agencies begin to draft new guidance documents.”

Representing a federal agency’s current thinking on a topic, guidance documents can be issued faster than regulations and previously did not require a notice and comment period. While these documents are not meant to be legally binding, they often are the basis for regulatory enforcement decisions, and manufacturers tend to view them as binding from a practical perspective. The White House said guidance documents should be subject to the same level of public scrutiny because they can be just as impactful as regulations.

“Agency guidance is often crucial to help manufactures understand complex regulations and statutes,” Hedren said. “But at the same time this sub-regulatory ‘dark matter’ can create chaos for heavily regulated industries like ours when agencies try to use the guidance process to end-run important rulemaking protections like notice and comment.”

Since the executive orders go into effect immediately, agencies will now implement their responses to the orders.

A version of this news article appeared in The Input, the NAM’s members-only weekday morning newsletter for manufacturing executives.


The Nation Unites for Manufacturing Day

On Oct. 4, approximately 3,000 manufacturers and educational institutions opened their doors to students, educators, parents and community leaders to celebrate Manufacturing Day.

Led by The Manufacturing Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers’ workforce and education partner, Manufacturing Day shows students what a career in modern manufacturing looks like.

By 2028, manufacturers will need to fill 4.6 million jobs. More than half of those jobs could remain vacant due to the industry’s skills gap and misconceptions about modern manufacturing. The MI and NAM aim to help solve the workforce crisis through efforts such as Manufacturing Day and the Creators Wanted campaign.

Manufacturing Day shows students why they should consider a career in modern manufacturing and what skills manufacturing companies are looking for in employees.

Political influencers from both sides of the aisle as well as federal entities shared Manufacturing Day messages, spreading the word about Manufacturing Day, its opportunities and the industry’s critical economic role.

To get involved in Manufacturing Day, visit


Today is #MFGDay19

Manufacturers Open Their Doors on Manufacturing Day

Today thousands of manufacturers and educational institutions across the country are opening their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders to celebrate Manufacturing Day. Led by The Manufacturing Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers’ workforce and education partner, Manufacturing Day shows students what a career in modern manufacturing looks like.

The Manufacturing Institute’s Executive Director Carolyn Lee will be in Greensboro, GA, at a Novelis facility.

NAM’s President and CEO Jay Timmons will be joining a Manufacturing Day event at a Samsung facility in Newberry, SC.

To keep up with the latest Manufacturing Day festivities, check out the MI and NAM on Twitter, plus the dedicated Manufacturing Day Twitter. Join the social media conversation by using the hashtag #MFGDay19 in related posts.


Manufacturers to Congress: Act on Climate

In September, the National Association of Manufacturers called on Congress to take action to address climate change. NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg testified before the House Energy & Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change and shared what the manufacturing sector is doing to reduce emissions.

Manufacturers are making environmentally conscious improvements because their customers, employees and shareholders have prioritized it — and because it’s the right thing to do, Eisenberg said in his testimony. Over the past decade, manufacturers have reduced the carbon footprint of their products by 21 percent while increasing their value to the economy by 18 percent, according to International Energy Agency data.

The last major congressional debate about how to address climate change was more than a decade ago. To solve this problem, manufacturers must think big, and Eisenberg told the committee that the industry is ready to work with Congress on solutions.

See the highlights from Eisenberg’s testimony below.

Policy and Legal

Manufacturers Stack Support for Infrastructure Investment

Today, the Infrastructure Working Group—a coalition of national organizations led by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Associated General Contractors—sent a letter to the Senate urging passage of a long-term, robustly-funded surface transportation reauthorization bill ahead of the Sept. 30, 2020 deadline. NAM Director of Infrastructure Catie Kawchak breaks down manufacturers’ immediate need for infrastructure modernization.

What’s the scope of the infrastructure challenge?

NAM data reveals that underinvestment in U.S. infrastructure worsens by the year, and infrastructure investment is only one-third of what it was in 1960. As a result, more than 54,000 bridges across the United States are rated “structurally deficient,” and a majority of our roadway are in less than good condition. Ports and waterways are in disrepair, airports and runways are clogged and congested. But it’s not just transportation infrastructure that needs an upgrade to accommodate a 21st-century manufacturing economy. We need improvements to our water, energy and digital infrastructure as well. It’s unacceptable that America’s infrastructure continues to receive a D+ grade. Now is the time to deliver transformational advancements to the infrastructure that connects our communities and facilitates free enterprise.

How does this challenge affect manufacturers?

Right now, America’s transportation infrastructure doesn’t support our vision for an exceptional America. Manufacturers use roads, bridges, rails, waterways, ports and airports every day—and if shipments are delayed by highway congestion or an unsafe bridge, then the entire production process can be delayed. Modern, just-in-time manufacturing must be incredibly precise to maximize productivity, but without reliable infrastructure, it’s impossible to do that cutting-edge work.

What is the NAM’s solution?

The NAM’s “Building to Win” blueprint offers a comprehensive plan to modernize the infrastructure that makes the American Dream possible. It provides solutions to support workers in the United States, jump-start economic growth, spur job creation, and enhance quality of life by improving and expanding our transportation, energy, water and digital infrastructure so that we can pave the way for the success of new generations. It even lays out a path for Congress to fund these investments.

What’s next?

In just one year, Congress faces a deadline to pass a surface transportation bill. Without this legislation, highway, bridge and transit projects will slow construction timelines and become even more costly. That’s why about 150 members of the Infrastructure Working Group applauded the Senate’s initial work on reauthorization and implored them to finish the legislative process on time. September 2020 may sound like a long time, but passing a surface transportation bill has historically taken longer than a year.  

What is the Infrastructure Working Group?

Led by the NAM and AGC, the group demonstrates the breadth of the industries impacted by America’s deteriorating infrastructure. It includes manufacturers, labor, construction, technology, finance, agriculture, retailers, emergency responders and local and state government, among others. There’s broad agreement about the need for effective, efficient infrastructure. We’re standing together to push for action, and now Congress needs to pass infrastructure legislation on time.

Policy and Legal

Universal Postal Union Changes Deliver Win for Manufacturers

Manufacturing workers move boxes out of warehouse

This week, the Trump administration successfully negotiated changes to the Universal Postal Union (UPU) that will protect manufacturers from counterfeiters and other bad actors who have been exploiting the international system. The improvements were agreed upon at a special UPU conference in Geneva after two days of negotiations.

The UPU is an agency of the United Nations that coordinates the worldwide postal system and postal policies among member nations. In recent years, Chinese counterfeiters have exploited the system, which allowed them to ship packages to the United States at highly subsidized rates.

The Trump administration gave notice in October of last year that the United States would pull out of the UPU unless the body implemented significant structural reforms to the “terminal dues” system under which postal operators exchange mail, arguing that some countries’ postal carriers are not paying enough to have their shipments delivered to recipients in the United States.

Some countries in the UPU, such as China, pay lower rates because they were classified as “developing countries” when the terms of the UPU were originally agreed to. The terminal dues system and classifications have not changed in decades, while some of those countries have grown into major global economies.

Under the negotiated changes, countries with high-volume imports of mail and packages will be able to impose “self-declared rates” for distributing foreign mail. The agreement goes into effect in January 2021, but the United States may immediately begin to set payment rates that cover the true cost of carrying inbound international mail. In addition, UPU countries won a significant increase in the rates they can charge inbound mail from China as a way of reducing the total global subsidy China receives under the prior framework.

“With the changes negotiated this week, the U.S. can feel comfortable continuing its membership in the UPU and fighting for further reforms from inside the system while at the same time protecting manufacturers from counterfeiters overseas,” NAM Vice President of Labor, Legal and Regulatory Policy Patrick Hedren said. “These changes level the playing field for manufacturers against counterfeiting and other unfair trading practices. The administration gave manufacturers a true seat at the table, and we look forward to working with them and our international partners to continue promoting a fair and open trading economy.”


Drug Price Controls Threaten Innovation and Patient Health

Tell Congress to Say No to Hidden Taxes


Healthcare worker in a laboratory with equipment

The United States has a long history of medical and pharmaceutical innovation. Yet, some policymakers have suggested imposing top-down regulations or pricing rules to reduce drug prices that would put this innovation at risk.

National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy Robyn Boerstling explains drug price controls and how they could impact everyday Americans.

What’s the problem with price controls?

Everyone agrees with the goal of reducing the costs of health care—and prescriptions in particular. The question is how to get there. One way we know will not work is via government-imposed price controls or other arbitrary measures. Non-market-based approaches like this are antithetical to the free enterprise system that forms the bedrock of our economy and way of life. Once we allow the government to run negotiations on our medicines, the government will have an even stronger incentive to run our health care—and that is exactly what many who support price controls like this would like to see.

Why is this important now? 

We are in a period of tremendous breakthroughs and medical discovery, led by pharmaceutical manufacturers in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, universities and other private groups. Pharmaceutical manufacturers spend more on research and development than any other industry, creating new treatments and cures that have the potential to save and improve millions of lives. In addition to funding R&D up front, pharmaceutical manufacturers also put a sizeable share of their revenue back into R&D so that today’s treatments can help fund tomorrow’s cures. Imposing arbitrary price controls will threaten those investments and undermine a system that is working to save millions of vulnerable people.

How should Congress approach high drug prices?

There’s no doubt that health care costs have been rising too quickly for far too long for American families. Those costs have contributed to wage stagnation for workers and discouraged other investments in the workplace. But we need to address inefficiency, affordability, improved outcomes and flexibility to drive down health care costs without abandoning market-based approaches. Any solutions should be guided by the four pillars that have made America exceptional: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.

That will require a comprehensive approach to the various forces that strain the system, recognizing the importance of innovation as a tool to reduce costs and improve health outcomes. Congress should support patient access to lifesaving medicines—and the American manufacturers and researchers that deliver them—instead of upending American health care in favor of an uncertain future.

Policy and Legal

EAGL Coalition Addresses Global Regulatory Issues

As the importance of international trade continues to rise, the National Association of Manufacturers has elevated its efforts to tackle global regulatory issues that impact manufacturers through its leadership in the Engaging America’s Global Leadership (EAGL) coalition.

EAGL represents a group of U.S. industries that believe in the importance of effective American leadership within multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Health Organization.

As the U.N. General Assembly opens, the NAM’s Director of International Business Policy Ryan Ong explains EAGL’s work and importance for manufacturers.

Why are the actions of these multilateral organizations important?

They play critical roles in promoting a more stable, predictable world and tackling important global issues such as international health, development and environmental sustainability. At their best, these organizations bring together government leaders, businesses, civil society, academic experts and other key stakeholders in transparent, inclusive conversations that drive effective policies and partnerships to solve global problems.

How do these international organizations relate to the needs of American manufacturers?

These organizations can directly impact policy decisions made by national governments. Resolutions and reports from these groups shape national debates and regulations, influencing U.S. exports, jobs, and manufacturing competitiveness. This makes it critical for these organizations and their activities to be accountable to member states and inclusive of the private sector and to reflect good regulatory practices and evidence-based approaches.

What areas is EAGL most interested in?

EAGL and its members focus on initiatives that impact manufacturers at international organizations. Examples include efforts to levy new tax and operational restrictions on manufacturers, impose bans or burdensome regulatory restrictions on manufactured products, and limit the ability of manufacturers to protect critical intellectual property.

EAGL is also a strong advocate for inclusive approaches at international organizations that embrace the private sector as an indispensable partner in policies and programs to achieve global goals.

How does EAGL aim to represent manufacturers’ views at international organizations?

The coalition works with a growing network of public and private stakeholders to promote effective member state leadership through stronger coordination within and between a growing set of international business and third-party allies and direct engagement with U.S. and foreign governments in national capitals, Geneva, New York and elsewhere.

The U.N. General Assembly starts tomorrow. What should manufacturers pay attention to during this meeting?

This year’s U.N. General Assembly includes a range of events that could have an important impact on manufacturers in different sectors by shaping national regulations around the world, thus impacting their ability to export and operate in critical markets needed to compete, grow and hire.

These include a high-level universal health coverage meeting and a related political declaration that could drive manufacturing-relevant national policies on areas such as innovation, taxation and regulatory restrictions. Other events include a Climate Action Summit, high-level forums on sustainable development and development financing, as well as a wide range of side events hosted by business and civil society groups.

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