When was your company's last anniversary? Did you reminisce about where you have been, evaluate where you are and visualize where you want to be?
This year marks the 100th anniversary of AMT–The Association For Manufacturing Technology and the 75th anniversary of the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). A review of this century shows that machine shops and manufacturing technology earned many bragging rights. How many people appreciate the contributions made by manufacturing technology and consider upcoming workforce changes?
As the 20th century began, we moved from steam to electricity and to the full realization of the Industrial Revolution. Henry Ford began producing the Model T. Orville and Wilbur Wright were close to flying a motor-powered airplane. A ready supply of workers powered manufacturing technology.
During World War II, machine tools made the greatest contribution of the industrial sector. From 1939-1945, U.S. industry shifted all output to military production. With this came an eight-fold increase in machine tool output between 1938 and 1941. The industry produced military equipment ranging from M1 rifles to B-17 bombers.
In the 1960s, modern machining centers debuted with automatic tool changers. In the 1970s, direct numerical control (DNC) and computer numerical control (CNC) captured our imaginations. In the 1980s, computer control technologies led to the appearance of flexible manufacturing systems. With the 1990s came the hexapod; controls became faster, more accurate and easier to use; open architecture was discussed as the way to make CNC easier; linear axis drives held promise for new levels of speed and accuracy.
As manufacturing technology advanced, the workforce changed. Hallmarks of your shop likely bring to mind specific individuals and skills. But yesterday's ready supply of workers has dwindled. In our 100th year, we see a need for more skilled workers.
Industry organizations are helping. Some actively work to attract, recruit and teach the workforce of tomorrow. Joint efforts between machine shops, industry organizations and schools can attract and train skilled workers.
SkillsUSA-VICA serves a quarter of a million high school and college students and professional members who are enrolled in technical, skilled and service occupations. It sponsors a range of career preparation activities that teach employability and leadership skills within trade and industrial education. The better that teachers and students understand the entry-level competencies that businesses expect, the more nearly the competencies will be realized.
The National Institute for Metalworking Skills, Inc. (NIMS) supports the development of a skilled workforce for the metalworking industry. NIMS support is accomplished through four activities:
- Developing, writing, validating and maintaining skill standards.
- Credentialing the skills of individuals. In 16 states, the NIMS standards serve as benchmarks for schools and colleges.
- Certifying training programs that meet or exceed NIMS quality requirements.
- Assisting states, schools and companies to form partnerships.
The IMTS 2002 Student Summit extends an invitation to teachers to breathe life into classroom lessons with a field trip to the largest industrial trade show in the Americas.
More than 600 educators brought nearly 4,000 students in 2000. Educators and students hobnobbed with innovators and leaders, saw how lessons apply in the real world and discovered the scope of manufacturing technology and the career opportunities it holds. At the Student Union, booths offered additional information about careers, schools and associations.
Classes benefit by having a company mentor. Mentors, such as machine shop representatives, bring exposure to real-world working environments, a more thorough understanding of the ins and outs of manufacturing technology and a heightened interest in career opportunities.
Mentors benefit, too. They meet individuals with entry-level skills. Often, they come to have a voice in curriculum considerations.
Whether or not 2002 is an important anniversary for you, survey where you have been, where you are and where you want to be. A well-trained, motivated workforce can play an integral role in achieving your goals. Take responsibility for workforce development by working with and supporting the efforts of organizations that are attracting and developing new talent. At your next anniversary, you may be very pleased.