Home » Manufacturing leaders launch task force to tackle workforce and competitiveness issues

Manufacturing leaders launch task force to tackle workforce and competitiveness issues

NAM board-level group unites to build a 21st-century workforce

WASHINGTON (Oct. 3, 2013) — The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has formed a task force of business and manufacturing leaders to tackle workforce challenges hampering the continued growth of American manufacturing competitiveness in the global marketplace.

NAMLogo2The workforce issues facing manufacturers are no secret to employers, policymakers or the media. Two of the most pressing, which the task force will address, are the mounting skills gap between the preparedness of workers and the capabilities manufacturers need and the scarcity of graduates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, NAM said.

“A strong manufacturing base is a critical foundation for strengthening the American economy, and to be successful, a strong manufacturing economy requires a highly skilled workforce,” said Doug Oberhelman, chair of the NAM board and CEO of Caterpilar. “It is an issue that will help to define our potential growth and shape manufacturing for decades to come. This multi-industry task force will supply the necessary policy solutions that should provide a road map to follow so that we can have the best workforce in the world.”

The NAM Task Force on Competitiveness and the Workforce will be led by Chip Blankenship, president and CEO of GE Appliances — a $5 billion unit of GE that has invested $1 billion in its U.S. operations and added more than 3,000 jobs since 2010. He will be joined by 15 NAM Board members representing a diverse group of U.S. companies.

“The productivity, innovation and talent of the men and women who make up the manufacturing workforce have fueled the American economy for decades,” Blankenship said. “Our workforce is, and should remain, our competitive advantage. Training and education are important values to GE and continue to be a priority investment for our growth and competitiveness. As we connect with fellow manufacturers, we have learned that we share a similar commitment to shrinking the skills gap. I look forward to chairing this group and advancing ideas to reinvigorate our workforce and help to make the manufacturing sector a stronger force in our economy.”

The task force will launch in January with a hearing-style discussion to identify common problems across industries and explore solutions. The group will work with public- and private-sector representatives through 2014 to develop concrete proposals regarding how the private sector and government at all levels can work more effectively together to ensure that the United States has a globally competitive workforce. The task force also will deliver a detailed advocacy plan so that the NAM can work with governments to implement these proposals and develop the workforce that meets the needs of modern manufacturing — a sleek, technology-driven industry that has the capability of powering the American economy.

“The future of manufacturing is intrinsically tied to our ability to develop and build a 21st-century workforce,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Manufacturing has the capacity to spur economic growth and American competitiveness for generations to come. Workforce issues are a major obstacle standing in the way of that resurgence, and we need a unified commitment to deliver strong, business-driven solutions.”

Members of the NAM Task Force on Competitiveness and the Workforce

  • Chip Blankenship, president and CEO, GE Appliances
  • Ron Bullock, chairman, Bison Gear & Engineering Corporation (Manufacturing Institute Board of Trustees chair)
  • Carlos Cardoso, chairman, president and CEO, Kennametal Inc.
  • Enrique Conterno, senior vice president and president, Eli Lilly and Company and president, Lilly Diabetes
  • Daniel Cruise, global vice president, government affairs, Alcoa Inc.
  • Mark Dobbins, senior vice president, corporate secretary, SUMCO Phoenix Corporation
  • Collie Hutter, president, Click Bond, Inc.
  • John Lundgren, chairman and CEO, Stanley Black & Decker, Inc.
  • Blake D. Moret, senior vice president, control products and solutions, Rockwell Automation, Inc. (Manufacturing Institute Board of Trustees vice chair)
  • Nick Pinchuk, chairman and CEO, Snap-on Incorporated
  • Austin Ramirez, president and CEO, HUSCO International
  • Tom Riordan, president and CEO, Neenah Enterprises, Inc.
  • Gregg Sherrill, chairman and CEO, Tenneco Inc.
  • Sandy Westlund-Deenihan, CEO/design engineer, Quality Float Works, Inc.
  • Chris Womack, president, external affairs, Southern Company
  • Tom Yura, senior vice president and general manager, BASF Corporation

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states.