Why not MFG?
By: Sally Michaels, Business Retention Manager, Frederick County EDA
Make, produce, fabricate, create, assemble, construct, build, turn out, form, model, forge, shape, mold....manufacture!
According to the Virginia Manufacturer’s Association, the United States is the largest manufacturing economy, producing 21% of global manufactured goods; next is Japan at 13% and China at 12%. The U.S. is twice as productive as the next 10 leading manufacturing economies!
In Virginia, 5,000+ manufacturers employ over 200,000 individuals, contribute $34 billion to the gross state product, and account for over 80% of the state’s exports to the global economy. Think about it; All of this product has to be tested, approved, copyrighted, boxed, shipped, hauled, stored, marketed, sold. When a single job is created for manufacturing, another three or four jobs are then created to support that job; legal, HR, accounting, transportation and logistics, etc. One hundred thousand jobs in Virginia are related to manufacturing exports!
The manufacturing world today is extremely innovative, high tech and demand oriented. This is what is now termed, ‘advanced manufacturing’. Remember Econ 101 and supply and demand? When demand and production increase, efficiency then increases, which is profitable for the company and lucrative for the employees. Companies are looking for skilled employees and in most scenarios, they are willing to pay for training and certifications. Manufacturing is the third largest sector of private employment in Virginia. So why aren’t more people moving in this direction? They don’t know what they don’t know; neither the companies that are local nor the types of careers available!
Locally, The Workforce Initiative (WI) strives to bring awareness to the careers of this sector. Each October, we host a week-long celebration during MFG WEEK. In the past we have held tours of local businesses open to the public, guided events for students and educators, and created videos showcasing area operations. Our efforts this year will be virtual and include: New videos to our library, TheWorkforceInitiative.com, featuring Continental, MTV Solar, and Southeastern Container; Social media ads featuring MFG facts, area businesses, products made locally, shout-outs to classes viewing videos; #WeMakeVA; WI’s mission and the events and projects we organize, tying the effort together; Weekly features in the newspaper with a spotlight on careers and employee testimonials and a Google-esque map pinpointing MFG operations within the region. You will be amazed to find which companies call our region home!
Our celebration is based around the Manufacturing Institute’s National MFG DAY, always held the first Friday in October. MFG DAY is a movement dedicated to showing the future workforce the modern world of manufacturing and the innovative and high tech careers available within the industry. One project you will learn more about during MFG WEEK is our most extensive to date, The Workforce Model. With the help of our area businesses, the WI Taskforce will build avenues to employment. The models created will include industry pathways for IT, Manufacturing and Construction with “on ramps” and “off ramps” for specialization.
Todd Lynn, CTE Coordinator, Shenandoah County Public Schools, is the newly appointed Chairman of The Workforce Initiative. He stated, “The WI wants to be responsive to the needs of the businesses so we can create a pipeline of talent entering the workforce. The Workforce Model can be a key factor in aligning education with the needs of the workforce.
The Workforce Model can be a key factor in aligning education with the needs of the workforce. We know that this model works, having researched and been a part of it through what Valley Health has done in the region to support the growing needs in healthcare. The goal is to have students understand the different pathways that manufacturers have available to them through proper training of students and teachers, the use of tours, and growing the number of work-based learning opportunities.”
According to Scott Krueger, a Workforce Initiative Board Member and and the CEO & President/Plant Manager of Continental Surface Solutions, “It is vital for business/industry to be an advocate and partner, as we seek to develop the manufacturing workforce into the future.” He added, “As a manufacturing business, the Workforce Model presents an opportunity for us to get directly involved in the Career and Technical Education efforts in both K-12 and the Post education/Adult job seeker. The career paths available in today’s manufacturing environment, often require specific skills, training and even certificaIncations. Production technicians, Testing/Lab technicians and highly skilled and certified trades positions, require the next level of preparation and certification. Supporting roles in Design, Quality, Engineering, Development, Marketing, Accounting, Science and Sales also present opportunities for potentially anyone.” There is an old adage, life is too short to work at a job you hate. The WI believes every individual should choose a career that they are both interested in and for which they have the aptitude. Sharing every possible career journey is critical and acceptance within our community is crucial.
Krueger pared down the undertaking of the WI, “The Workforce Initiatives’ goal (2023) is to provide, Real Jobs, Real Wages and a Real Workforce. Creating value for all the stakeholders in the community. Business must be willing to be part of the solution. Working not only with the K-12 education system, but also civic, social and community organizations, to provide the resources where and as needed. Defining the skills gaps and assisting in the creation of the resources aimed at closing these gaps. Helping both students and adults and providing them the opportunities to function independently in society. “
Will your business be part of this movement? Find out more at TheWorkforceInitiative.com.
"The Top of Virginia Regional Chamber is an incredibly valuable resource for the Shenandoah Valley..." – Adrienne G. Bloss, PhD, Provost, Shenandoah University.