Surges are frequently thought of in military terms as in the 2007 increase of troops in Iraq.
Surges can also happen in the economy. Just ask anybody in the stock market about the momentum there. Presently, there is a surge in U.S. manufacturing as noted by Bloomberg in a recent article.
Yes, U.S. Manufacturing Has Momentum
Last December, U.S. manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in 3 months in orders and production. This has been the biggest year for factories since 2004, according to the Institute for Supply Management.
The U.S. manufacturing surge is a feel-good story, but it has ramification elsewhere as noted by Bloomberg:
A common refrain from companies surveyed, though, was difficulty finding highly-skilled labor, and some firms are paying higher wages to attract the workforce needed, ISM manufacturing survey committee chairman Timothy Fiore said on a conference call with reporters.
Vocational schools and universities should pay attention to the need for U.S. manufacturing workers, and in the case of the machine tools sector, machinists.
Angelina College Makes Its Students Competitive with New Equipment
For example, Angelina College, a two-year comprehensive community college in Lufkin, Texas north of Houston, fields calls as far away as the Carolinas and Wisconsin for graduates of its Machine Tool Technology program, according to Dr. Gary Friery, Associate Dean of Instruction in Technology & Workforce.
The school recently bought several manual lathes from LeBlond as well as accessories for its milling machines to bring cutting-edge technology for the approximately 15 full-time students in its machine tool program. Angelina College has an advisory board that not only recommends equipment but hires students once they complete the program.
“We know we have our people out there in industry,” said Dr. Friery. “The people on our advisory panel are hiring them.”
New Equipment, Better Skills
Vocational schools and universities should think of modernizing their machine shops to keep students’ skill level high to meet demand in the marketplace. It is not just Angelina College that reports a need for machinists.
“I don’t have enough students to fill open positions in our area for machinists,” said Paul Moskevitz, Instructional Teacher for Machine Technology at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Whittier Regional Vocational Technical H.S. Students Learn on Manual Equipment
Whittier, like Angelina College, has an advisory council full of industry partners, alumni and current students and their parents. They recently bought a series of LeBlond RKL-1332G manual lathes to refurbish their shop and keep students’ skills competitive. Students learn the fundamentals of machining on manual machines in their first two years in the program.
The school north of Boston took advantage of long-established Massachusetts General Law Chapter 74, a state program that supports vocational technical education, and also received a $495,000-capital skills grant to buy new machine tools and computer equipment.
The Bottom Line for Your School
The bottom line for American educational institutions?
Manufacturing is hot. Machinists are needed. Equipment should be supplied to keep these students’ skills competitive, so they can get jobs and contribute back to their schools as alumni.
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