Renewing oneself in the changing economy and making sure that the government is accountable for policies affecting U.S. manufacturers was the message that panelists reiterated to the 300-strong attendees at the National Association of Manufacturers (www.nam.org) town hall meeting on Tuesday.
John Engler, one of the panelists and Chairman of the NAM, said his organization has already identified the principals, such as reducing manufacturing costs in the U.S., improving international competitiveness in terms of valuation of the U.S. dollars and fair trading opportunities, and strengthening U.S. workforce for current and future challenges.
Added another panelist, Al Frink, Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services, Department of Commerce: “The key is that there is a shortage of qualified people. Education is one of the areas I’d focus on with greatest degree of attention.”
According to the annual survey results released by the NAM on Monday, 40 percent of U.S. manufacturers intend to hire in 2005 but cannot find enough skilled workers to fill these openings.
“When people talk about companies going offshore they don’t choose to but they just have to,” Frink said.
Another panelist Don Wainwright, Chairman of the Department of Commerce Manufacturing Council, urged companies to “step out of the marketplace and see what the market needs to make that change.”
“I have 37 years in the business and I’ve never seen it this tough before,” he said. “When I look at profitability, I look at it in much different ways than in the past because the business has changed. You have to renew yourself and make sure that you can fit in the market.”
“One of most important things is to try to be the instructor of legislators,” Wainwright added. “If you’re not involved, you can’t change that process. The burden is put on our back.”