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The Need to Support Manufacturing

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on Oct 5, 2018 8:30:00 AM

Rep.RoyEditor’s note –  Today is Manufacturing Day throughout the United States. Representative Jeffrey Roy is the House Chair of the Massachusetts Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus.
He recently met with the AIM’s Manufacturing Committee. 

Manufacturing is vitally important to the Massachusetts economy. It provides pathways to economic prosperity for residents of varied educational levels. Massachusetts’ strong regional manufacturing clusters help anchor regional economies, especially outside the Boston core.

And manufacturing is becoming increasingly reliant on advanced and emerging technologies – a trend that plays to the commonwealth’s strengths.

It is the sixth largest employment sector here. Statistics show that 10.1 percent of the commonwealth’s total economic output is tied to manufacturing. Some $26 billion in manufactured goods were exported from the commonwealth in 2016 alone.

Roughly 250,000 employees work in the manufacturing sector in Massachusetts, comprising 7.8 percent of the total work force in the state.

This local manufacturing capacity helps Massachusetts innovators bring new products to market quickly, and helps innovative companies grow to scale in Massachusetts.

The Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus was formed in 2014 and consists of 60 members of the House and Senate. As the House Chair working with the Senate Chair Eric Lesser, this caucus serves as a link for issues that affect the manufacturing industry.

We came together in particular to address problems faced by the commonwealth's manufacturing industry in filling technically demanding jobs with people who have the right skills. 

ManufacturingWorkerSmallAs lawmakers, we focus on training for manufacturing employees. We encourage innovation by helping start-ups access resources, and by expanding apprenticeship opportunities, among other things. We set policies and allocate budget dollars to bolster the economy and build upon the renaissance of manufacturing here.

We passed legislation to form an Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, made up of industry leaders, innovators, and government officials.  Our mission is to make Massachusetts the most complete, connected, and fastest ecosystem for applying advanced technology to commercialize products from innovation through production.

And it is working. We have created a great ecosystem for manufacturing, and we are committed to strengthening it.

We understand that during the next decade, baby boomer retirements and economic expansion will lead to job openings in manufacturing. Manufacturers will struggle to find skilled employees to fill these positions.

On top of that, manufacturers are faced with overcoming a negative image of the industry among young people. While most Americans consider manufacturing one of the most important domestic industries for maintaining a strong national economy, young people rank it low as a career choice for themselves.

Eighty percent of manufacturing executives report that they are willing to pay more than market rates in areas reeling from a talent shortage. It takes an average of 94 days to recruit employees in the engineering/research/scientific fields and an average of 70 days to recruit skilled production workers.

Facing these time frames for recruiting, it is no surprise manufacturers report the most significant business impact of the talent shortage is their ability to meet customer demand.

To address these needs we are fostering collaboration between manufacturers, community colleges, technical high schools and regional work force boards in order to create regionally-specific talent pipelines.

We are aligning education programs, the state work force system and economic development to meet employers’ needs for workers in each region of the state. And we are putting money behind our objectives, funding the following programs:

  • The Workforce Training Fund Program;
  • The UMass Lowell Innovation Hub;
  • The UMass Innovation Center;
  • Mass Tech;and
  • The Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP).

We have created a MA Manufacturing website, which I urge you to visit regularly. It focuses on, among other things, the resources manufacturers need to access creative financing solutions, save on energy costs, attract qualified workers, and take their businesses to the next level.

We do this work because we believe “making it” in Massachusetts is critical to economic prosperity and success for all of our residents. And because it is one of the keys to maintaining the commonwealth as a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

If we look at our nation’s history, times of big growth have always been fueled by manufacturing revolutions. Look at the steam engine in the middle of the 19th century, the mass-production model in the beginning of the 20th century, and the first automation wave in the 1970s. Those resulted in tremendous growth. Fifty years later, we are on the verge of another huge change, and once again, manufacturing is leading the way.

We are seeing manufacturing converge with large technological innovation. And harnessing these technologies in the manufacturing space is the next revolution that will boost industrial productivity and create growth. And Massachusetts can lead the way.

Along with you, we are writing the next chapter in manufacturing history, and I am happy to be able to join you on this journey.

Please contact Bob Paine at rpaine@aimnet.org for more information about the AIM Manufacturing Committee. 

Topics: Manufacturing, Massachusetts Manufacturing, Technology

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