April 9, 2014
Bloomington, IN–TASUS CEO and President Melanie Hart attends many events and conferences on plastics and manufacturing throughout the year. One such event was the Ditchley Foundation Summit “The Future of Manufacturing”, which hosted a number of well respected public officials, leading educators, and business and manufacturing professionals from around the world to discuss the manufacturing industry’s issues and opportunities. Companies from every country represented at this event expressed the difficulty they face in finding skilled labor. In the U.S. the average age of a skilled welder is 53 years old. This is a problem because manufacturing companies will lose a large portion of their skilled labor to retirement over the next two decades. Without skilled labor manufacturers cannot produce complex quality parts. The way to keep manufacturing jobs in developed countries is through innovation and high quality. Neither is possible with an under-skilled workforce.
Sony founder Akio Morita said “The world power that loses its manufacturing base will cease to be a world power.” How can the U.S. and other developed countries keep manufacturing and their world power if they do not have skilled labor?
TASUS President Melanie Hart has a plan to combat this labor issue. The key to increasing skilled labor is to recruit and increase interest early. Companies should be offering apprenticeships, plant tours, and guest speakers in classes for students. Currently there is a negative perception of manufacturing among the youth in the U.S., and it needs to be changed. Hart says that TASUS will involve the youth more, and find aspects of the company that will excite them. Technology is a key component of manufacturing, and the youth are a part of the technology generation so finding ways to excite them should not be difficult. The facilities have different types of robots and computerized equipment which can be shown to students.
TASUS also has a goal to be more involved with local schools, both high school and college. TASUS Alabama and TASUS Texas have developed plastics, maintenance, and engineering programs with local technical colleges. This has allowed students to focus on the courses needed to be successful in manufacturing, as well as allowed current employees to further their education. TASUS employees have also been guest lecturers at the technical college near their facility in Texas.
TASUS is reaching out to junior high and high school students, as well as academic counselors and teachers. TASUS is giving plant tours and speaking in classrooms. Reaching the students at a young age will give them a different career path to consider. Many students do not want to attend a four year college, but do not know the different opportunities out there. Hart believes employees should also give back to the youth while increasing their interest in manufacturing by helping with and sponsoring robotics teams. These teams are common in high schools and can be a great way to increase manufacturing interest while also giving back to the community. Reaching the young students can show that there is an opportunity through technical colleges to have a successful career with a manufacturing company such as TASUS. The combined efforts of manufacturers around the world can increase the number of skilled employees available and strengthen U.S. manufacturing.
The Ditchley Foundation brings together leading practitioners and experts from around the world to help shape policy on the major international issues of the day. Its unique blend of intellectual rigour, informality and discretion, in a glorious rural setting, promotes new understanding, fresh thinking, and better decision-making. For more information on the Ditchley Foundation please visit www.ditchley.co.uk