Golden Opportunities in Modern Manufacturing

Jay Simmons and Pamela Kan
Jay Timmons is president and CEO of the NAM. Pamela Kan is president of Bishop-Wisecarver and a member of the National Association Manufacturers Board of Directors.

California has rightly earned a reputation as a global leader in developing revolutionary technology. But what is often underappreciated is the Golden State’s leadership in modern manufacturing—an industry that is intricately connected to the breakthroughs made in Silicon Valley.

Modern manufacturing relies on some of today’s most advanced technology—augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics and 3-D printing. And these technologies will become increasingly synonymous with manufacturing in the coming years. These breakthroughs allow manufacturing employees to do work more efficiently and more safely—all while increasing our competitive edge with global competitors.

Amid this rapid change, however, one thing remains the same: manufacturing needs people. Our industry relies on talented individuals putting their skills to work building products that matter and make a difference in people’s live.

Today, about 12.8 million Americans work in manufacturing, including about 1.3 million Californians. 2018 was the best year for manufacturing jobs creation in America in more than two decades, and we still have many, many more jobs to fill.

Across the country right now, manufacturers have 428,000 open jobs. On top of that, a recent study from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, reveals that manufacturers will need to fill 4.6 million jobs in the next decade.

Of those 4.6 million, as many as 2.4 million will go unfilled if more Americans don’t enter the modern manufacturing workforce. Industry leaders, educators, parents, community leaders and elected officials all have an important task ahead of us: encouraging more people to attain the skills needed to seize these high-tech, high-paying jobs.

Nationally, the average manufacturing employee earns nearly $85,000 annually in wages and benefits, well above the average across all other industries. In California, that number climbs to more than $100,000. These jobs include everything from coders, programmers, technicians and engineers to welders, designers, artisans, marketers and craftsmen.

Manufacturers are shining a spotlight on these opportunities in California this week, as the NAM State of Manufacturing Tour comes to the Bay Area. The tour will visit local manufacturers, including Jelly Belly, multiple companies at SFMade and PlaceMade’s Manufacturing Foundry and Bishop-Wisecarver, which provide many of the solutions manufacturers need to modernize their operations. The NAM will bring the tour to Salesforce, which helps manufacturers nationwide reach their customers more effectively. And we will visit Pittsburg High School, whose specialized STEM curricula and FIRST Robotics teams are preparing students for modern manufacturing careers.

Throughout the tour, our message is simple: creators wanted. Creators are wanted in modern manufacturing. We need everyone to be a part of inspiring the next generation of talent and building a more diverse workforce.

Of course, manufacturing’s success depends on other developments. We are also looking to our leaders in Washington, D.C., to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, enact meaningful immigration reform and secure more opportunities to sell our products around the world—both through approval of the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement and through a new trade deal to hold China accountable.

The future will undoubtedly bring more challenges for our country and for our industry. But manufacturers do not fear the future. Throughout our history, we have been the ones that build the future, developing the products and processes that define modern life. And regardless of what the future brings, California innovation will continue to build a strong manufacturing industry, and a strong manufacturing industry will always be at the heart of a strong American economy.

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