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Monday, July 28, 2014

PMA Chairman featured in U.S. News Story on Alleviating the Skills Gap

Jody Fledderman, Batesville Tool & Die President and PMA Chairman, was recently featured in a U.S. News & World Report story on how job training programs are helping manufacturers replace an aging workforce.

The article cites the results of a new Accenture study with the Manufacturing Institute on the skills gap in the U.S.  manufacturing sector.  The study referred to the growing skills gap as “storm clouds on the horizon that could indeed dampen growth” and showed that more than 75 percent of manufacturers surveyed reported a “moderate to severe” shortage of skilled workers.  At the same time, the survey pointed out that most companies surveyed plan to increase U.S. based production in the next five years.
Throughout the country, communities are beginning to recognize the opportunity to train individuals for these higher paying jobs.

And that is where PMA Chairman Jody Fledderman comes in.  He participates in a program in Batesville, OH that allows local businesses as well as the area community college and high school to collaborate in order to develop a new field of talent for jobs in manufacturing.
The program brings high school students, beginning their junior year, into a co-op program.  As they alternate between classes at the community college, the high school, and hands-on experience at a local manufacturing facilities, they develop the skills that businesses like Fledderman's need.
By graduation, Fledderman stated in the article, participants will be about one semester short of their associate degree, which, he said, is “more important to us than a four-year marketing degree or something like that. We have some of those needs, but the technical, associate degrees are 10 to 1 over what we need for a four-year degree.”
For Fledderman, the program in Batesville serves two goals: 1) teaching students industry skills they’ll use in their own careers, and 2) developing young workers with some experience for future employment.
"There’s a lot going in with retraining the existing workforce and that kind of stuff, but we wanted to concentrate more on having manufacturing being a first thought for kids when they’re getting out of high school versus an afterthought," he says in the article.
Read the full piece here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One Voice Cheers President Obama’s Signing of Workforce Training Bill

President Obama signed the new workforce training bill into law today, as anticipated.  PMA and our One Voice partner, NTMA, have long been supporters of efforts to get the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act ("WIOA") passed and signed.  Get more information on the new law in our press release below - 

One Voice Cheers President Obama’s Signing of Workforce Training Bill
Manufacturing Associations Hope that New Legislation Will Help Combat Sector’s Growing Skills Gap
Washington, DC - The National Tooling and Machining Association and the Precision Metalforming Association, together known as “One Voice,” today applaud President Obama’s signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (H.R. 803).
The bipartisan bill, which passed both the House and the Senate by wide margins, updates the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and covers dozens of job training programs.  The legislation, “WIOA,” is part of ongoing efforts to close the skills gap in the U.S. manufacturing sector and enable employers to find and hire workers with the skills needed for competitiveness in modern manufacturing.
The bill’s provisions, among others, eliminate outdated programs; provide accountability and data reporting requirements; require implementation of industry or sector partnerships and career pathway strategies and, increase the ability to use on-the-job training (reimbursement rates up to 75%) and incumbent worker training (may use up to 20% of local funds).
Importantly, the bill also prioritizes the use of industry-recognized standards and credentials.  This inclusion is especially significant for One Voice as NTMA and PMA are among the founders of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) and remain active in setting the bar for skills standards in the metalworking industry.
According to a recent One Voice survey, nearly 75% of members in both NTMA and PMA have job openings in manufacturing plants, and 80% report that they are having challenges recruiting qualified employees.
“The skills gap is a pressing challenge that has caused many U.S. manufacturers to have serious shortages of qualified potential employees,” said NTMA President Dave Tilstone.  “Our members have seen this problem first-hand and we are hopeful that this new legislation will help with recruitment and retention for our sector which is vitally important to the American economy.”
NTMA and PMA have been leaders in pressing Congress to reform the outdated federal workforce system and strongly supported WIOA. Both organizations sponsor activities to attract students and new workers to manufacturing including NTMA’s National Robotics League and NTMA-U and PMA’s Women in Manufacturing.
“The good news is that the U.S. manufacturing sector is only expanding,” said PMA President Bill Gaskin.  “We are pleased that our voices have been heard and our government is taking this important step to support our members and the manufacturing industry as a whole.”

About One Voice: The National Tooling and Machining Association’s (NTMA) and the Precision Metalforming Association’s (PMA) combined “One Voice” federal government advocacy program represents nearly 3,000 metalworking companies and is designed to promote U.S. government policies that will ensure a strong manufacturing sector in the United States.  For additional information, please visit

Monday, July 21, 2014

Latest PMA Business Conditions Report Shows Predictions of Status Quo

The latest PMA Business Conditions Report is out.  The July 2014 data reveals that a smaller number of surveyed metalforming companies predict that economic activity will improve during the next three months than predicted growth in June 2014.  At the same time, a larger number of companies predict steady or declining conditions.

Read our press release about this month's results below -

Business Conditions Report: July 2014
CLEVELAND, OH—July 21, 2014—According to the July 2014 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report, metalforming companies expect a slight decline in business conditions during the next three months.  Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 122 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

The July report shows that 28% of participants predict that economic activity will improve during the next three months (down from 31% in June), 58% expect that activity will remain unchanged (up from 54% last month) and 14% believe that economic activity will decline (compared to 15% in June).

Current average daily shipping levels dipped in July.  Thirty-one percent of participants report that shipping levels are above levels of three months ago (down from 35% in June), 44% report that levels are the same as three months ago (down from 46% last month) and 25% report a decrease in shipping levels (up from 19% in June).

However, metalforming companies forecast a slight improvement in incoming orders during the next three months, with 40% predicting an increase in orders (compared to 37% in June), 40% expecting no change (compared to 45% in June) and 20% predicting a decrease in orders (up from 18% in June).

The percentage of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff increased to 9% in July, up from 8% in June.  The July 2014 figure is the same as it was one year ago.

“PMA’s July Business Conditions report reflects continued uncertainty about the general economic outlook,” said William E. Gaskin, PMA president.  “In July, PMA members reported a modest improvement in their expectations for new orders and reported consistently low percentages of employees who are on short-time or layoff.  While they reported that shipping levels were below those of three months ago, this is a typical situation for July, when the comparison month is April, normally a strong month for shipments vs July.  When asked about trends in overall shipment levels in July 2014 vs July 2013, more than half (51%) reported that shipments were up vs 2013, while 26% reported they were the same and 23% reported they were lower.”

The monthly Business Conditions Report has been conducted by PMA since 1979.  Full report results are available at  PMA is the full-service trade association representing the $113-billion metalforming industry of North America—the industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming and roll forming technologies, and other value-added processes.  Its nearly 900 member companies also include suppliers of equipment, materials and services to the industry.  PMA leads innovative member companies toward superior competitiveness and profitability through advocacy, networking, statistics, the PMA Educational Foundation, FABTECH and METALFORM Mexico tradeshows, and MetalForming and Fabricating Product News magazines.

Monday, July 14, 2014

PMA Member Helps to Inspire Revamp of Job Training Programs in the U.S.

This past week, the United States House and Senate nearly unanimously passed a revamp of federal workforce training programs, and the bill is expected to be signed by President Obama soon. The bill authorizes more than $50 billion over six years for programs that aim to help youth and veterans seek the skills they need to be hired in today's STEM workforce. The overhaul eliminates 15 programs found to be duplicative or dormant since Congress last worked on the issues 16 years ago.

Many credit the passing of this bill to the examples of already exiting private and public partnerships that pair workers with employers in need.

An article published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune hightlighted the story of PMA member Erick Ajax, owner of the precision metal company, E.J. Ajax.

According to the article, Ajax has hired a number of employees who might have been overlooked by others, after ensuring that they get the proper training.  Working with nearby Hennepin Technical College in consultation with a workforce center, Ajax's workers (including some with criminal backgrounds) have been trained in specialized programs for metal stamping

It's stories like Ajax's that led Senator Al Franken (D-MN) to help push through the initiative in Congress.  “I have seen these partnerships all over the state," he says in the article. "And I say let’s reward businesses where they have skin in the game, where they can demonstrate that they can create jobs.”

The ongoing high demand for skilled metal workers, has led Ajax and other PMA members to turn to Congress, urging Members to create and fund programs that match those seeking work.

You can read the full story from the Star Tribune here.

And you can go here to see more about how PMA helps members get in touch with their government.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Monster Article On Manufacturing Opportunity Quotes PMA Member

The skills gap in the manufacturing sector continues to be a hot topic in the news.

A recent article posted on the Monster blog describes how the modern resurgence of manufacturing is being held back by this major challenge for U.S. manufacturers.  Monster, best known for their online platform for job seekers, publishes blog posts on employment trends in various sectors including manufacturing.  “Contrary to popular belief,” author Bret Silverberg wrote in the July 2, 2014 article, “the demands of the manufacturing industry today require significant technological expertise.”

PMA member Drew Greenblatt, president of the Baltimore, Maryland-based Marlin Steel Wire Products, shares his experience with the evolving manufacturing sector in the Monster piece.  “People think of the production lines, and what people did in the 1920s,” he is quoted as saying.  “That’s out of date. It’s not measuring what’s really happening in American manufacturing. … Factories today are very sleek technologically.”

It's this difference, he explains - the space between the skills manufacturers need and those available in today's work force - that leave high-tech and high-paying manufacturing jobs open.  Solving the skills gap will help manufacturers reach their full potential in the U.S. economy.

Read the full article here.

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