Once a year, that National Association of Manufactures (NAM) embarks on a “State of Manufacturing” tour, this year stopping at 25 cities to spread the work about the role, success and more of the manufacturing sector in the US.
Recently, the NAM web site published the remarks to a gathering of students and more at Lone Star College in Houston, TX from Jay Timmons, President and CEO of NAM.
SCDigest publishes the highlight of those remarks below:
Last year, when we surveyed manufacturers who belong to the NAM, they said they were more optimistic than at any time in the 20-year history of the survey.
So, let me ask you, with a show of hands: who plans to go into modern manufacturing?
Let me follow up with this: when you hear the word “manufacturing,” what usually comes to mind?
We have a range of ages in the audience today. But I feel really lucky when I get the chance to talk with young students. I always ask them what they think of our industry.
And sometimes they don’t realize what today’s manufacturing jobs are. They’re engineers. They’re coders. They’re robotics operators. They’re welders. They’re technicians and designers and marketers. Today’s manufacturers are truly building the future.
So, what does all this mean? It means all the noise and rumors you hear about robots taking jobs and manufacturing being a thing of the past – it’s just not the real story.
The real story is that manufacturing is an engine of job creation. It is the source of America’s strength.
Sure, we have our challenges. That’s what we’re going to talk about. And the first one has everything to do with the people in this room.
Manufacturers need people. We need you.
Right now, manufacturers have 428,000 jobs open in America. And if you think that’s a lot, listen to this: we’re going to need to fill about 4.6 million jobs over the next 10 years.
This is all from a study from the consulting firm Deloitte and the NAM’s workforce and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute. They also found that 2.6 million of those jobs won’t get filled if we don’t recruit more people to join manufacturing—people like you, starting your career or looking to change your career.
And you want to know one of our best-kept secrets? These jobs – they pay good money.
On average, American manufacturing workers make about $85,000 annually in wages and benefits, which is about $32,000 more than people in other fields.
Today, people in manufacturing are using technologies that most Americans couldn’t have imagined a few years ago – artificial intelligence, augmented reality.
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We don’t just have robots; we have “co-bots,” machines that work in tandem with you. And you have manufacturers trying to figure out how quantum computing could revolutionize logistics.
So, this really is the next frontier in manufacturing.
We’re always moving forward, always improving – not just how we make things but what we make.
But America’s future is only as bright as our manufacturing industry is strong. America’s security and standing as a beacon of hope in the world depend on manufacturing’s strength.
Last month, China landed a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. That’s a big milestone. But are we going to let China lead in space? Or is the United States going to lead?
Is China – or any other country – going to become the leader in the global economy? Or is the United States, our exceptional nation, going to keep leading?
I don’t know about you, but I think America must lead.
That’s how we will uphold the values that we cherish and that made America exceptional in the first place – free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.
There are a lot of big issues that matter to manufacturers. I’m going to focus on three.
None of this, by the way, is about Republicans or Democrats or independents. It’s not about politics or personality or process. It’s about policy – good policy – that will make a difference in the lives of Americans.
You’ve probably heard the president and Speaker Pelosi talk about investing in infrastructure. Well, manufacturers want that, too. And all Americans deserve better roads and bridges.
We need modernized ports, waterways, pipes, pipelines, electric grid and airports—as well as next-generation communications infrastructure like 5G technology.
As manufacturers, we can’t get our products to our customers quickly and cheaply if we don’t have better infrastructure. And, more importantly, this is also about your family’s safety.
So, manufacturers are calling on Congress to make a serious investment in our nation’s infrastructure. Without action, we will lose 5.8 million jobs by 2040. But with an injection of $1 trillion in American infrastructure, we will create 11 million.
Manufacturers’ competitiveness depends on infrastructure. It also depends on trade. I’m sure you’ve heard talk about tariffs, and China, and NAFTA and the new U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement. And maybe you wanted to tune it out. But please don’t. Here’s why it matters.
There are 7.7 billion people in the world. Ninety-five percent of the world lives outside the United States.
If our economy is going to succeed, if we’re going to stay on top, we need to sell the things Americans make to those people – before someone else does. And we need to partner with them to create new innovations, whether they live in Canada or the EU or China.
Being part of a strong world economy raises standards of living here at home and reduces poverty around the globe.
So, number one: manufacturers are counting on Congress to ratify the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement and to do so quickly. These two countries are our most important trading partners.
Second, we want to see the administration come to an agreement to hold China accountable.
China cheats – plain and simple. And it hurts us here in America. And the tariffs on their products and on ours? Well, they hurt manufacturers, too.
China is the most challenging market in the world – but it also has big opportunities. So, a trade agreement between the two countries would not only fix those problems and set new rules – it would be historic. We want it done, and that’s why we called for it more than a year ago. You should want it done, too.
We also want to see lawmakers reach an historic agreement to fix our broken immigration system once and for all.
The broken system is not fair – not to the Dreamers who know no home other than the United States of America; not to Americans who want to know their country is secure.
And let me just say that if you’re a Dreamer, or your friend or your family member is a Dreamer, manufacturers stand with you. We need to reach a solution so that you can have the confidence you deserve to build your own future.
But let’s also be realistic. We need security as well. A nation has to protect its borders. That’s just a basic necessity.
Manufacturers understand that a truly comprehensive solution has to show compassion, provide security and address economic realities. Last week, the NAM released just such a plan. We sent it to Congress. And we sent it to the White House.
This plan, which we call “A Way Forward,” is pragmatic, and it is realistic. It bolsters security. It provides a path and certainty for undocumented workers. It improves our asylum and refugee system. It responds to employers’ priorities and needs. And it strengthens the rule of law.
Finally, there’s one more threat to our future that impacts all Americans, but it hits Houstonians in particular. Right now, there are groups of trial lawyers slinking around the country tantalizing elected officials in cities and states with unrealistic promises of jackpot justice if they will only agree to sue energy manufacturers over climate change.
This is Houston – home to energy companies – so this matters to you. These lawyers – they want to get rich at the expense of manufacturing workers.
The good news is courts have ruled repeatedly against these frivolous and baseless lawsuits. But if they were ever to succeed because one activist judge decides to make a statement instead of applying the law, the lawyers will get their payday, the politicians will get some headlines—and the rest of us will still be left to solve the climate challenge.
So, whether it’s immigration, trade, infrastructure or a host of other issues, I implore you—stay engaged. It takes all of us to advance manufacturing in America. It takes all of us to make sure our beloved country remains exceptional.
We’ve made too much progress, and we’re doing too much good, to let anything stand in our way.
It’s all about your future.
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