For the past two years, the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) has been leading the Rebirth of Manufacturing Jobs initiative. This Initiative is designed to boost employment and business opportunities for North American manufacturers through collaboration with federal, state, and local government agencies and educational institutions. The aim is to make businesses more globally competitive, drive demand for skilled workers, accelerate the economic recovery, and improve America’s quality of life.

Paul Kuchuris, AME’s new president, and Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Initiative, want to bring jobs back to North America and guide schools to produce skilled workers trained to tackle the newly created openings.

To raise awareness, Kuchuris and Moser have been pooling their resources to promote the Initiative and attract support from industry and community leaders and policymakers. Current projects include expanding the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Estimator tool, which now covers 17 countries; delivering more than 100 presentations nationwide in 2011; recruiting volunteers for local reshoring projects; and getting buy-in from various government offices.

The Initiative is gaining visibility but has a long way to go when it comes to bringing work back to North America, says Moser. “Companies must learn to use TCO to improve their profitability. Eventually, the U. S. has to balance its $600 billion per year trade deficit, and government must realize that reshoring is a much-more efficient and feasible solution than exporting for most companies.”

Challenges that lie ahead include gaining the attention of major corporations, and getting them to reevaluate off-shoring and reward supply chain managers on TCO rather than price, says Moser. Reaching these goals will make it easier to recruit skilled workers to the manufacturing community. However, educating these workers also presents challenges. Even during the recession, 32% of manufacturers could not fill jobs because applicants did not have the proper skills. “The Roadmap to Education Reform for Manufacturing,” a report released earlier this year by The Manufacturing Institute, provides six principles for education reform:
• Move to competency-based education.
• Establish and expand industry-education partnerships.
• Infuse technology in education.
• Create excitement for manufacturing careers.
• Apply manufacturing principles like “lean” to reduce education costs.
• Expand successful youth development programs.

To gain skilled workers, we need to improve our educational system through an outcome-based mentality and performance accountability of our teachers, says Kuchuris. Because the needs of the business community change all the time, we must also develop personnel programs that focus on the ever-changing skill gaps, as well as cultivate an environment based on innovation and empowerment.

Off-shoring began at least 50 years ago and is driven by thousands of consultants and the price-based bonus plans of many supply chain managers, says Moser. Efforts like the Reshoring Initiative and Rebirth of Manufacturing Jobs are far outnumbered. However, the first step — gaining awareness — is well on its way.

Glenn Marshall is a Benchmarking Champion at Newport News Shipbuilding. For more information on reshoring initiatives, visit www.ame.org and www.reshorenow.org.

Edited by Kenneth J. Korane

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.