Immigration reform is an economic necessity—and it needs to happen now in order to spur economic growth and keep manufacturing in the U.S. competitive, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons told an audience at a recent roundtable in Phoenix featuring Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ).
- “Manufacturers want to build consensus,” Timmons said. “Most Americans agree that our immigration system is broken. And we need to fix it, whether it’s major legislation or targeted, specific fixes.”
What went on: The NAM and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry hosted Sinema last Friday for a discussion on fixing immigration policy and other matters critical to manufacturers.
- A seven-person panel—which included Valley Forge & Bolt CEO Michele Clarke and Intel Corporation State Government Relations Senior Director Jason Bagley—talked about the current challenges facing manufacturers and the urgent need for solutions on immigration, workforce development, tax policy and more.
- Held at the Phoenix facilities of defense-electronics company Mercury Systems, the roundtable was part of the NAM’s Competing to Win Tour, a facility-visit and discussion circuit that began in February. Its aim: to bolster manufacturing competitiveness through conversations between manufacturers, political and community leaders, employees and the media.
What needs fixing: “As I travel across Arizona, I hear from employers of all sizes about the challenges they face filling jobs,” Sinema told the audience of manufacturers and industry stakeholders. “This is especially true in the manufacturing sector. That is why I’ve been hard at work identifying realistic solutions.”
- Indeed, the workforce “problem isn’t going away,” added Timmons, who moderated the event. “We have nearly 700,000 open jobs right now. And 4 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled by the end of the decade, 2.1 million of which could go unfilled if more people are not brought into the industry … according to research from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s workforce development and education partner.”
How to fix it: Part of the solution is right in front of us, Timmons said.
- “There are many policy fixes that could build our pipeline of skilled employees—people who can excel in manufacturing positions while contributing to our society and building lives for themselves in America.”
- He referenced “A Way Forward,” the NAM’s policy blueprint featuring implementable action items for legislators on immigration reform and related issues, such as the undocumented population and green-card backlog.
NAM on the air: Timmons and Arizona Chamber CEO Danny Seiden were guests on Phoenix radio station KTAR News’ “Mike Broomhead Show” to discuss the Competing to Win tour and the importance of manufacturing jobs.