Streamlining the nation’s permitting process, filling open manufacturing positions and reforming the U.S. immigration system—these are just a few of the actions the U.S. must take to improve American lives and bolster the economy, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said Tuesday.
America still works: Timmons was one of three panelists at “Building the Workforce of Tomorrow Today,” an event hosted by United For Infrastructure, a program of Accelerator for America Action. He told audience members that manufacturers have before them “a great opportunity.”
- “What really excites me the most is, when you look at [the] CHIPS and Science [Act], when you look at [the] Infrastructure Investment [and Jobs Act] and when you look at—hopefully—permitting reform, what you see is, America still works,” he said.
- “We have this moment in time where I think we have to prove again to the world that America is a beacon, it is a democracy that provides opportunities for everyone and allows individuals to succeed and to rise on that ladder of success. …. For manufacturers, this is a great opportunity.”
Workforce challenge: Timmons discussed the primary workforce challenge before the sector—a projected growth of unfilled jobs—and how manufacturers are aiming to overcome it.
- “We have about 800,000 open jobs in the sector today and … we have to hire 4 million people before 2030,” he said, referring to the findings from a joint study by the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate, the Manufacturing Institute, and Deloitte.
- The NAM and MI are seeking to fill those jobs through the work of several initiatives, Timmons continued. These include perception-changing programs such as Creators Wanted, Heroes MAKE America, the Toyota-founded Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education program (now operated by the MI), Women Make America and the promotion of second chance hiring (employment of individuals with previous, non-violent involvement in the criminal-justice system).
Education: The importance of reaching the next generation of manufacturers early cannot be overstated, Timmons told the audience.
- He talked about the high-tech donations—robotics, CNC machines and more—by manufacturers to schools such as Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Missouri, and Palatine High School in Palatine, Illinois. This machinery is used in programs that aim to interest students in manufacturing careers.
- “I think we have obligation to” make this sort of investment, Timmons said. “I’m very proud of our manufacturers for stepping up to it.”
Immigration: Perhaps the most pressing issue before the U.S., however, is immigration, Timmons told the audience.
- “Today, more so than ever before, we have an economic reality that we have to address,” said Timmons, who referenced the NAM’s policy blueprint on immigration reform, “A Way Forward,” during his talk.
- “We have what, 13 million undocumented folks in this country? … We need to hold our officials accountable for coming up with a plan that is workable and humane and will actually help the economy.”