Getting Kids and Adults Interested in the Future of Manufacturing
CLEARWATER, Fla. — March 27, 2012 – This year marks the first for a new program being sponsored by the Bay Area Manufacturing Association and corporate sponsor iDatix Corporation: STEM Goes to Work. Bringing together both sides of the Bay, students in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties will get the opportunity to visit local factories in their respective counties to learn more about this industry and how to overcome the manufacturing skills gap.
This new initiative is to support the ideas behind Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Their mission is to raise awareness in Congress, the Administration and other organizations about the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the U.S. to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace of the 21st century.
The events will occur each quarter with the first scheduled for March 31st. Hillsborough County students from Greco Middle School will be touring local manufacturer Southern Manufacturing Technologies. Executive leaders will be available to answer questions and encourage the students to pursue a path into one of the many positions available in the field.
The goal of this program is to keep kids in the state of Florida, and to get them interested in the Manufacturing field, as well as to involve the parents and educate them on the current state of the industry. Students and adults will get an insider perspective on careers in manufacturing.
“Unfortunately, U.S. manufacturing suffers from an image problem dating back to when some companies began moving production offshore to China in the 1990s,” said Roy Sweatman, president of Southern Manufacturing Technologies, Inc. of Tampa, FL. “U.S. manufacturing was inaccurately portrayed as a ‘dying industry’ and an unattractive career choice. Nothing can be further than the truth. Manufacturing in the U.S. is alive and well and has enjoyed 29 straight months of growth.”
The manufacturing industry continues to add hundreds of jobs every year, and more are coming over as the cost of doing business in China rises. In fact, labor department data as of October 2011 notes that there are between 240,000 and 600,000 current job openings in the manufacturing sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy gained 50,000 manufacturing jobs in January 2012. Over the past two years, the U.S. manufacturing sector has expanded by about 10 percent. The problem now is that they cannot find the skilled workers they need. A recent Deloitte report based on a survey of manufacturers found that as many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled.
“Our hope is that this program will spark the interest in manufacturing back into the hearts and minds of our students, so this industry can continue to grow,” notes Janet Bryant, STEM Goes to Work Committee Chair, Director of Corporate Development for iDatix.