Friday, September 30, 2016

Manufacturing can be pathway to economic development

The Reporter, September 29, 2016

By Kimberly K. Fu @ReporterKimFu on Twitter
Manufacturing — Solano County’s answer to economic growth and job development.
Such was the implication at Wednesday’s breakfast gathering of the Solano Economic Development Corporation for the first in a series exploring different industries that could contribute to increasing job opportunities.
Dorothy Rothrock, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, and Bill Gaines, Chairman of Transfer Flow Inc., talked about the importance of manufacturing and the impacts it could have on the economy.
California, apparently, has the sixth largest economy in the world and is also known! as the manufacturing state.
Yet, last year, California was dead last when looking at manufacturing investments, lamented Rothrock. She pointed out that manufacturing jobs continued to show growth, but California still lagged.
The issue — finding skilled workers.
"This is one of the biggest issues we’re working on," she said.
By teaching students about the manufacturing industry it’s possible to have a skilled workforce available by the time graduation comes around, she said.
Gaines agreed.
He proposed teaching students elements of manufacturing in grade school on up. If you wait till they get to college, it’s too late, he said.
There are probably dozens of manufacturing busin! esses in your backyard, he said, and even knowing about them helps their growth. Just one manufacturing job is comparable to the pay of 13 retail jobs, he said, as skilled labor is needed to complete the jobs.
Impediments include not having that skilled labor, which is intrinsically linked to technology and science.
"If we don’t keep up with tech, we’re simply out of business," he said.
At least 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed by 2025 and an estimated 2 million will go unfilled due to a lack of available staff.
Which is where the North State Grow Manufacturing Initiative comes in.
The aim is to let students know about all the opportunities available in the industry and train them for those jobs. Industry experts can help! train the trainers — in this case, teachers — to ensure students are fully exposed to everything they need to know. They’ll get realworld exposure and learning, and be up to date on the latest technologies driving manufacturing.
Next, schools should expect to count on support of the industry — receiving any equipment and expertise they may need.
Manufacturing, indeed, can have a positive impact on a community, Gaines said, and it’s already made a difference in his area, Butte County. By shining a light on the industry and getting everyone involved, he said, it can definitely be impactful to every community.