BERT MAES

The Future of CNC Manufacturing Education – CNC Manufacturing, Education Reform & Change Management News.

To Start the School Year: Maximize Student Motivation

Posted by Bert Maes on September 3, 2012


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In many countries it is the first day of school today. The ideal moment to talk about motivation, don’t you think?

In a post last year, I talked about how high-tech machines greatly improve student motivation. But of course that is not the whole story.

School teacher Bill Ferriter explains that technology alone isn’t motivating.

What students are really motivated by are opportunities to be social. It’s the opportunity to give students activities built around the big ideas that matter to them, and the opportunity to interact and share with their peers.

They are motivated by issues connected to fairness and justice. They are motivated by finding solutions to the often-troubling changes they see happening in the world around them.

Motivating students should start with conversations about our kids. What are they deeply moved by? What are they most interested in? What would surprise them? Challenge them? Leave them wondering?

You can find some inspiration in my posts called “The Truth about…Youth” and “A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 3]

The goal of all conversations at school should be maximizing student motivation, self-confidence, personal responsibility, work ethic and communication skills.

Business executives concerned about their future workforce are deeply worried about exactly these job readiness skills.

For that purpose we should improve curriculum, bring the schools up to date technologically, hire and retain the best teachers and ensure that they are using the most effective teaching practices.

But foremost the right skills start with the right mental framework. If students learn how to be committed, determined and how to set brilliant goals, they are ready for great achievements.

An “I will do this” culture of commitment, determination, action and specific goals is the foundation of the job readiness skills business leaders find lacking in students. Help students to be willing to work and ready to learn.

Create a culture of success. They will realize far more of their potential. I take that up in the next post.

 

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A weak manufacturing sector is like having a weak immune system

Posted by Bert Maes on April 5, 2012


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Every lost manufacturing job means the loss of around 2.3 other jobs in the economy (e.g. in research and design). Manufacturing’s decline slows economic growth. While manufacturing represents 10% of the jobs in the economy, job loss in manufacturing hits nearly 30% of the economy.

There is a structural weakness in our manufacturing. Our manufacturing is not competitive. Invasion of import competition from China was responsible for between one‐quarter to more than one‐half of the lost manufacturing jobs in the 2000s.

A new report – published by The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation – states that “the loss of manufacturing is due to underinvestment in manufacturing technology support policies (…), among others.

Underinvestment in medium- and high-technology is causing a structural decline of our economy. To be able to use those technologies, we of course need high-tech skills.

So the future of manufacturing begins with education, and with the resulting high-skilled top talent.

The current situation of manufacturing is like having a weakened immune system.

Without the right system of cells you will never keep the integrity of the body intact.

The body has soldiers, members of the immune system army:  the B-cell and the T-cell. The dutiful soldiers get into action the moment any foreign substance or agent enters our body. B-cells circulate all around the body in the bloodstream, and eventually bind to the agent. T-cells circulate in the bloodstream and lymph and kill the agent. The blood and lymph systems are responsible for transporting the soldiers of the immune system.

  • The blood stream is our education system.
  • The B-cells are our high-level technologies.
  • The T-cells are our highly-skilled workers.

They are our protective shields to combat infections. If our cells are not strong enough, viruses are attacking our vital organs.

Germany, Korea and Japan have transformed to high-skilled manufacturing. They have a significantly higher share of their manufacturing output in high-tech and medium-high-tech industries than the United States; they have transformed their manufacturing industries toward more complex, higher-value-added production. They face less competition, so they increase their manufacturing employment.

More and stronger cells, a better blood stream, a stronger immune system that shows higher productivity is required for strong health.

More students, more advanced technology, better education is required for economic success.

With a strong manufacturing immune system, the economy would be much healthier.

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A Change Model for Manufacturing Education

Posted by Bert Maes on April 1, 2012


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So many people sit and debate about the costs or human resources of reforming education.

Usually they talk about the huge amount of money that is needed, the lack of strategy from the government, or a lack of authorities coordinating between education and industry, or the lack of involvement of social partners in actively implementing support for education.

That was the case last month, at a conference in Bratislava Slovakia entitled “Can we prepare young people for the Slovakian business needs?” I was asked to be a keynote speaker, because, and I quote:

“I have come across your blog, while doing research for a stakeholder workshop in Bratislava which is aimed to tackle the ability of education system and public policies to produce qualified and high-skilled labour force. We are looking for a speaker for this workshop that would be able to provide a valuable insight about the best practices in preparing students for employers’ needs. I would like to offer those who attend a fresh look from abroad by someone who´s an expert on the business-education system relation and you seem to fit that.”

The problem in Slovakia is that there is a mismatch between the needs of the economy and the types of graduates that the Slovak education system delivers.

That is the problem everywhere, right?

Most solutions count heavily on the input of governments. However, very often governments do not provide teachers with the right tools to share their knowledge and skills to the students who need and want to learn.

In educational reform, the focus should always be on supporting teachers.

The only right approach in educational innovation is supporting teachers in increasing the performance and motivation of their students.

And this can be done without breaking the bank.

Let’s face the facts:

  • 40 years of education research confirms that the quality of a teacher is the biggest factor in boosting students’ performance.
  • Change outcome in education is explained almost completely by commitment of the teacher. (Crandall, 1982)
  • There is no manufacturing without skills, and there are no skills without teachers, so there is simply no manufacturing without teachers.
  • Stakeholders should not be thinking about how to get teachers to do things, but think about to help teachers do things.
  • What do teachers need? (1) supportive leadership, (2) access to high-quality curriculum, teaching resources & technology, (3) Time for teachers to collaborate, (4) clean & safe building conditions, (5) Professional development that is relevant to personal & school goals, (6) Collegial work environment, (7) Higher salaries.

For at least half of these elements, we don’t have to wait for political strategies, but we can work with schools individually to design and implement educational innovation. The options are simply outstanding at the micro level.

We have a big job to do — and that is to create an interest in manufacturing. If we don’t do something about it, we’re going to lose a core part of our economy.

As the shortage of skilled technicians is a global trend that needs to be reversed immediately, the HTEC program is working with schools at micro level to spark change.

Haas Automation is sitting down at the table with teachers and brings meaningful real education tools that work.

Our goal is offering a gentle, and real way to create development in education that promotes innovation and world class learning in manufacturing.

We are happy to share our model with whoever wants to take on this difficult but inspiring work.

A little preview:

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Manufacturing: the unseen underground economy

Posted by Bert Maes on October 7, 2011


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In 1850, a decade before the Civil War, the United States’ economy was small — it wasn’t much bigger than Italy’s. Forty years later, it was the largest economy in the world. What happened in between was (…) the rise of steel and manufacturing — and the economy was never the same,” says W. Brian Arthur, an economist and technology thinker.

Since ages manufacturing is quietly, for many people unnoticeably, transforming the economy.

Manufacturing is silent, invisible and unseen.

Much like the root system for aspen trees, Arthur observes. “For every acre of aspen trees above the ground, there’s about ten miles of roots underneath, all interconnected with one another, “communicating” with each other.”

The observable physical world of aspen trees hides an unseen underground root system.

Just like trees, CNC machine tools are creating for us — slowly, quietly, and steadily — a different world.

Think about this: the success of Steve Jobs was based on CNC manufacturing machines, based on the invisible roots undergound: Apple puts CNC Machining Front and Center.

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If you want to have a green job: get in manufacturing!

Posted by Bert Maes on September 5, 2011


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Investment in the green economy and renewable energy today will help ensure our economies stay competitive in the future. But perhaps more importantly, right now investment in the green economy is creating new jobs for millions of job-seekers.

And guess what? If you want to have a green job: get in manufacturing!

A great portion of jobs in the clean economy is in manufacturing-related segments.

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Spanish and Portuguese Students: A Five-Axis Manufacturing Future

Posted by Bert Maes on July 28, 2011


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School principal Mr. José António Gomes feels that that investing in the Haas VF-2 isn’t just right, but is also risk-free. “First of all,” he says, “it’s risk free because of the quality of the Haas machines, but also because of the well-known service capabilities of After Sales. But, maybe more importantly, even when the economy is down, the best investment is in knowledge. With knowledge, there is no risk of devaluation or depreciation. Giving our young people the ability to make things with 5-axis technology will never be a waste of money.”

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As most readers know, Haas Automation’s European HTEC (Haas Technical Education Centre) programme continues to go from strength-to-strength, as more and more schools on the Continent invest in the latest Haas machine tool technology to create state-of-the-art CNC teaching facilities.

However, not every school that invests in Haas machines chooses to be an HTEC. Some have more specific requirements. In the case of two, recently opened teaching-workshops in Spain and Portugal, that requirement was for low-cost, high capability 5-axis machine tools.

The Centro de Formação Profissional of Águeda, Portugal, opened on July 7th, 2011, and the IES Politécnico de Vigo, Spain, opened on July 8th. Each school has invested in a Haas VF-2 CNC machining centre equipped with a Haas TRT160 – a tilting 160 mm, 2-axis CNC rotary table, giving 5, simultaneous cutting axes. Both machines are supplied and supported by the local Haas Factory Outlet, a division of Portugal-based After Sales, SA.

Águeda’s economy has a strong, metal processing sector. “Two things are keeping this region healthy,” says mayor, Mr. Gil Nadais: “agriculture and metal manufacturing. We need to increase our turnover in these key export sectors and investing in innovative technology is essential for the future of this region.” School principal Mr. José António Gomes feels that that investing in the Haas VF-2 isn’t just right, but is also risk-free.

“First of all,” he says, “it’s risk free because of the quality of the Haas machines, but also because of the well-known service capabilities of After Sales. But, maybe more importantly, even when the economy is down, the best investment is in knowledge. With knowledge, there is no risk of devaluation or depreciation. Giving our young people the ability to make things with 5-axis technology will never be a waste of money.”

The economy in Vigo, Spain, Galicia’s economic powerhouse, relies heavily on local automotive manufacturing.  Mr. Antonio Estévez is headmaster at IES Politéchnico de Vigo. “Our priority is ensuring the car industry can find people skilled in mechanical engineering and maintenance,” he says. “Each year we invest in the latest equipment to ensure our students have the most up to date and practical preparation possible. The five axis Haas VF-2 is the right investment to develop skills that Galician companies need.

Several Haas industry partner companies – including Mastercam, Sandvik, Chick and Cimcool, also supported the grand openings of the two new teaching workshops. Managing Director of After Sales SA, Mr. Carlos Vilas-Boas feels that the role of his HFO is, in many instances, one of facilitator. “We take service and support very seriously,” he says, “and we believe it includes connecting students, teachers, employers, technology companies and politicians. These two events are good examples of how, when we all work together, the benefits are better training and, ultimately, greater productivity and stronger economies.”

Haas Europe HTEC coordinator Mr. Bert Maes also attended the grand openings. “These two schools have forward-looking managers and top-quality, industry-experienced teachers,” he says. “Combined with the easy-to-use Haas 5th axis technology, the result is highly skilled and motivated students with the technical ability to build complex projects like the ones I’ve seen today: from small wind-powered generators to fully-functioning customised, computer mice. I am convinced that many companies in Portugal and Galicia will benefit from the time and energy After Sales is investing in these important schools.”

www.HTECnetwork.eu

''

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German manufacturers recruit professionals from Spain and Bulgaria

Posted by Bert Maes on July 25, 2011


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The German manufacturers lack skilled workers. So they are urgently looking for young engineers and experts in crisis-torn Spain. Initial negotiations are successful.

But kids in technical education have to know foreign languages!

High unemployment in Spain encouraged workers to emigrate

In Baden-Wuerttemberg alone, several thousand posts are vacant. We are now looking to the neighboring EU countries to acquire staff. The time seems favorable, because Spain experiences a very high level of unemployment, especially among young people. In Spain, many young engineers are unemployed,” said Dr. Beate Raabe of the Central Placement and Placement Services of the Employment Agency.

Since the beginning, the authorities have encouraged recruitment on the Iberian Peninsula. This pleases Ulrich P. Hermani, Managing Director of VDMA Baden-Wuerttemberg. “We strongly support the initiative and pushed to have this,” says Schwabe, who has personally appealed to the Regional Directorate of the Agency’s work.

Its member companies are hoping for well-trained professionals from the Spanish automotive industry. The mechanical and technical ability of the Spaniards are more than ever in demand between Friedrichshafen and Mannheim. And the Iberians seem ready for Teutonic challenges.

Wittenstein has already placed job advertisements in Spain

Wittenstein AG doesn’t have Spaniards yet, but they have placed job offers on site. Important for the company is that they know spoken and written German. German courses are available for Spanish experts.

The departure of the sun, paella and bullfighting is sweetened by a safe workplace and a long-term perspective, according to VDMA. “It is known throughout Europe, that Germany has come well out of the crisis and is looking for professionals,” the employment agency writes.

But Hermani, Association Manager, doesn’t expect a big rush. “We must not give ourselves the illusion that this will solve the skills shortage. There is not enough influx from abroad, and I mean all foreign countries,” Dr. Hannes Hesse adds, Executive Director of the VDMA, Frankfurt. He is counting on the students. “We think especially the foreign students are perfect immigrants. After the end of their studies, they should remain in Germany”.

Bulgaria also interesting for professionals recruitment

Nevertheless: his colleague Hermani looks to Eastern Europe and especially to Bulgaria, having a long tradition of mechanical engineering. In neighboring Hungary, many experts acknowledge, no specialists are available. A scenario for Spain? “With the recruitment of unemployed candidates, we relieve the Spanish labor market locally,” says Raabe of the employment agency.

But is it morally legitimate and economically sensible to make use of an ailing partner country and its expertise, and in retrospect support him with millions of euros, economists ask themselves.

Who is helping the Spaniards, to take advantage of economic misery in the absence of young professionals?

Source: MaschinenMarkt – Robert Weber

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The Truth about…Youth

Posted by Bert Maes on June 14, 2011


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What motivates young people around the world today? Money? Fame? Justice?

McCann Worldgroup asked that question to 7000 young people around the world: US, UK, China, India, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, Chile, South Africa, Italy, Germany, Korea, Japan, Australia and Philippines.

 The same three motivations are ranked highly in every country.

 

And it is technology – most often their phone and laptop – which fuels the three motivations above. It is the deep relationship with technology that allows them to connect and to influence justice for a new era.

  • The need for connection and community is the most fundamental motivation for young people. They want to connect, share and broadcast through digital cameras, cheap editing software, design programs and blogging platforms.
  • For this reason: to be remembered, not for their beauty, their power or their influence, but simply by the quality of their human relationships and being loved by many people.
  • Connecting to a broader network of friends has replaced the need to belong to a tight-knit group of friends.
  • They long for new tools to broadcast, share, entertain, make new connections, beat their friends, and narrate their lives.
  • They avoid all impositions, rigid rules and structures where they can’t negotiate.
  • But these tools should come from people that really care. Youth is disgusted by corporate people doing good just to make themselves look good. From a young person’s point of view, the worst thing a brand can do us make a promise it doesn’t keep.
  • Young people want to change the world. Social media allows them to share information, to join groups on a wide range of topics (everything from corruption in politics to freedom of speech or human rights abuses) and to build networks of support and encouragement.
  • They believe technology brands like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook will solve most of the problems the word faces today, from environmental issues to food shortages, from freedom of speech to privacy and terrorism.

I am wondering how these technology brands will save the world.
Have you got insights for me?

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A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 5]

Posted by Bert Maes on June 10, 2011


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PART 1: Understand the manufacturing facts

PART 2: Understand the education facts

PART 3: Understand the needs of our youth

PART 4: Understand the needs of manufacturers

[FINAL] PART 5: Understand how to work together with schools

  • I notice that principals are usually committed to establish a unique school, with a sharper profile, a stronger competitive position while being the reference for the highest quality in instruction and quality learning for all students. The hope is that that results in attracting more students, more money and more working relationship possibilities towards the government, the community and where possible the international scene. That would bring more means to develop his teacher team further via continuous professional development.
  • Generally speaking, I find teachers have the need to be very valuable for the accomplishments of future generations, make a world of difference for their students, motivate them, keep them enthusiast, inspire them, being a true role model, as well as offer them the perfect start for a very secure, promising, rewarding career. Teachers usually are also interested in professional development and advancement to make their professional life easier, and give them more satisfaction in his job.
  • The private sector needs to get involved and rally together with financial support, advocacy support and program support. Schools are looking for good-will professional external agents that can offer guidance and support with forming allegiances with fitting training and professional development suppliers, providers of teaching materials, political and societal leadership, media, fundraisers or financial experts, architects and all other help for the school staff to choose practices appropriate to their needs.
  • What kind of business involvement does it take to truly make a difference in the education arena? Principals and teachers always have a clear passion, but they often lack the systems and tools to create change. To start with companies should study the challenges teachers and principals face. Companies can easily supply goods and services to schools, can make a commitment to continue funding in good and bad times, can offer support in HR, can try to attract national attention and exposure, can arrange employees to work as mentors etcetera. But it is not going to work if you don’t keep in mind three things:
    (1) you have to offer your support in (re)building the curriculum to meet the needs of our youth and the needs of local manufacturers.
    (2) business leaders need to be brought together to put pressure on governments. Serious reform requires changing policy, and that means use political resources, put pressure, push for smart policies and start political debate.
    (3) a lot of barriers are people.

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[VIDEO] Why Manufacturing is so Important to Each of Our Lives

Posted by Bert Maes on June 8, 2011


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A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 4]

Posted by Bert Maes on June 8, 2011


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PART 1: Understand the manufacturing facts

PART 2: Understand the education facts

PART 3: Understand the needs of our youth

PART 4: Understand the needs of manufacturers

Simply put: manufacturers look for ready-trained, on-demand and enterprise-ready talent with following skills:

  • Ability to operate sophisticated computerized machinery, follow complex blueprints and demonstrate high
    math proficiency
  • Ability to verify information, critically analyze, recognize patterns, analyze data sets, synthesize, creative
    problem solving and thus improve manufacturing processes.
  • Success in communicating ideas, participating on a diverse team, considering alternative perspectives,
    collaborate with other experts on a global playing field (languages!)
  • Ability to communicate in a variety of media, to participate in networks, and to navigate distributed
    organizations.
  • Track record of personal management, planning ahead and persistence and initiative demonstrating
    independent work and judgment
  • Management, legal and sales/marketing skills

But many companies seem to get disappointed by the quality of graduates from local training programs. In terms of competency as well as attitude (morale and timeliness).

PART 5: Understand how to work together with schools (June 10th)

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A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 3]

Posted by Bert Maes on June 6, 2011


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PART 1: Understand the manufacturing facts

PART 2: Understand the education facts

PART 3: Understand the needs of our youth

  • Very often young people hear that they have to love math and science to be able to follow CNC. They hear that it is challenging, “but if you work hard you can do it”. And they never hear benefits and rewards of being an engineer. The messages emphasizing the challenge of math and science skills, clearly don’t work. Many students don’t enjoy math and science enough to become engineers and find it “boring” and “nerdy”.
  • The four messages that tested besttoward appeal and relevance are
    1. Engineers make a world of difference.
    2. Engineers are creative problem-solvers.
    3. Engineers help shape the future.
    4. Engineering is essential to our health, happiness, and safety.
  • Youngsters lose their attention in av. 3 minutes. They have no patience; they want to get information fast and quick on subjects that are visual, hands-on, actual, challenging, adapted to the needs of society, based on real-life problems with practical use for the youngster’s own life. They want direct action, direct results, and a respectful, passionate and authentic teacher.
  • Technical education should encourage their creativity. “We encourage our children to be expressive and make things. Then, suddenly, when they reach age 6 or 7, we switch gears, leaving them with the impression that art class is as extracurricular as baseball and not nearly as important as, say, English or math”.
  • This generation did growing up in a period with booming wealth. At home they have everything they want, in terms of high-quality goods. They want to keep the same standards outside their home, i.e. in schools and in their jobs. Young talent expects quality in class.
  • In school and on the work floor young people are looking for self-development and a fun time. Their choice of work and their choice of education should support that goal.
  • They are very eager to learn more, to see more, to develop themselves and especially to do what they like to do. In the first place it is not important how much money they get, but what is the most crucial: how much you’ll learn, how happy you’ll be, how much respect you get from your friends’ community, how much fun your colleagues will be, how good the job matches with personal interests and values. Young people don’t want huge salaries, if that means they don’t have time anymore for their family and friends.
  • Engage students. Create flow experiences through projects and events that not only bring fun and excitement, but also help them to build social connectivity. Create tools and projects that connect and make your students the stars. Don’t sell a course, sell a community. If you can offer students a better way to belong, a better way to be significant, and a better way to connect to and impress their peers than what’s already out there, then your students will invest their time into the community, the project and the events you create for them.
  • Get students involved as early as possible in deciding what to teach. It is a big thing for teenagers to have their opinion count.  In school, that can make a big impression with small but meaningful acts. Young people are looking for platforms on which they can tell their own story.
  • On open days young talent wants to hear about the role of manufacturing and how it is important to economic development, how manufacturing and the company is global, that the industry is alive and well, what the value is of what they are learning in school, what the products are that are being made, the possible jobs and wages, the advanced technologies, alternative energy or bio processes involved, and testimonials from young employees.

PART 4: Understand the needs of manufacturers (June 8th)

PART 5: Understand how to work together with schools (June 10th)

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A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 2]

Posted by Bert Maes on May 31, 2011


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PART 1: Understand the manufacturing facts

PART 2: Understand the education facts

  • Pupils are avoiding technical subjects, partly because of “substandard, inadequate facilities” All too often, technical schools are dark, dirty, old fashioned and depressing places with totally obsolete training equipment. This is not the type of environment in which young people want to invest 5-6 critical years of their lives.
  • It’s all about first impressions. If the first impression of a classroom is not good, you can’t touch and move young people to follow your manufacturing classes.  Welcoming environments reduce dropout rates. ”Talent demands an environment in which it can excel. Innovation comes from talented people working in the right environment with the right tools. Give talent the resources to create”.

PART 3: Understand the needs of our youth (June 6th)

PART 4: Understand the needs of manufacturers (June 8th)

PART 5: Understand how to work together with schools (June 10th)

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A Guide to Convince Youth to Pursue Manufacturing Jobs [PART 1]

Posted by Bert Maes on May 27, 2011


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PART 1: Understand the manufacturing facts

  • The countries that enjoy a strong manufacturing base have a healthier financial situation. Loss of industry makes a country lose exports, lose income and lose standards of living for the citizens. Loss of manufacturing contributes to impoverishment.
  • Manufacturing makes a bigger contribution to exports than anything else. “It still contributes to 50% of all our exports,” says Sir Alan Rudge. “The only valid way to close the trade gap is something like 20% increase in manufacturing. Anything else is pure theory. Without manufacturing the economy would be a disaster. It is already weak and it would be much weaker.
  • The most powerful nations in the world are those that control the machinery that makes the goods. Jon Rynn shows that about 80% of the world’s production of factory machinery has been controlled by what we would consider the “Great Powers”. Until the 1950s, the US had produced about 50%; we now produce less than China’s 16%.
  • Machine tools and technological improvements in that machinery are the main drivers of economic growth. No machinery industries, no sustained, long-term economic growth. Machine tools lead to the explosive economic growth of the last two hundred years. A machine tool makes the metal components that not only go into other pieces of machinery, such as cars, but are used to produce yet more machine tools.
  • The modern factory is no longer a giant building filled with hundreds of interchangeable low-skill, low-wage full-time employees. With the right skills most manufacturing operations offer rewarding, creative career opportunities involving sophisticated equipment.
  • The problem of course is that manufacturing takes time to develop and change and be able to build up the markets. In financial services the actions can be taken a lot faster. Improving manufacturing output is clearly not a short term project.
  • Do you have any other important facts we should tell the youth of the nation?

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31 parameters which shape a healthy environment for manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on May 26, 2011


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The ERA Foundation established a list of parameters which are considered to be influential in shaping a healthy environment for manufacturing.

The list is not necessarily exhaustive; nonetheless, to test the parameters and provide some initial prioritization, it was circulated as a simple questionnaire to one hundred knowledgeable industrialists and policy makers who were invited to add further parameters if these were felt to be important.

Thirty-six responses were received and a final list of 31 parameters compiled; these are organized in the priority order shown below.

A long-term high-level Government commitment to manufacturing.
A competitive exchange rate.
Low interest rates.
Lower corporation tax.
Capital depreciation tax relief.
Taxation of dividends.
Capital gains tax on companies (cf. property etc).
R&D tax credits.
Direct government grants.
De-regulation/ Better regulation.
Intellectual Property protection.
Skills – professional.
Skills – technical.
Energy costs.
Accommodation costs (including business rates).
Capital controls – including FDI.
Competition policy – mergers and acquisitions.
Foreign takeovers of companies.
Role of Regional Development Agencies.
Labour costs.
Flexible labour laws.
Bank for Industry.
Infrastructure – transport, communications, broadband.
Government procurement.
Tax incentives for investment.
Business start-up support.
Venture capital funding and tax incentives.
Science research base.
Academic-industrial collaboration.
Encouraging the young to consider working in industry.
Culture – recognizing and broadcasting the critical contribution of manufacturing to the future of the country.

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[VIDEO] A Celebration of Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on May 25, 2011


Showcasing the diversity, ingenuity and productivity of manufacturing:

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The more we develop the manufacturing skills of our youth, the more manufacturing will come back

Posted by Bert Maes on May 19, 2011


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Things should not always be made in the country with the lowest wages. And there is a simple reason:

Chinese graduates lack the level of skills that global manufacturers expect, even when they produce thousands of those graduates, Deloitte reports. Firms face problems in finding people with adequate leadership skills, team work, English skills, problem-solving abilities, and managerial skills.

The Chinese education system simply does not inculcate independent critical thinking, which is a pre-requisite for working in today’s manufacturing environment.

Manufacturing is a multidimensional world that is not only about cost-driven decisions anymore. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) lists several examples of companies that have already brought plants and jobs back to America. And that is not only because of the rising labor costs in China (pay for factory workers in China soared by 69% between 2005 and 2010) but even more because of the shortage of skilled workers in China.

Caterpillar, a maker of vehicles that dig, pull or plough; Sauder, an American furniture-maker; NCR producing cash machines; and the Frisbee and Hula Hoop manufacturer Wham-O are restoring their production from China to the West.

This clearly shows that the more we develop the manufacturing skills of the youth of our nation, the more manufacturing is expected to return to us. The HTEC program has significant value to build the skills necessary for modern factories. Manufacturing workforce shortage continues, unless large manufacturing companies commit to invest in these advanced training and skills.

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How to Support Teachers

Posted by Bert Maes on May 4, 2011


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Below is an infographic illustrating what teachers feel is most important toward improving instruction.

Absolutely essential or very important:

(1) 96% Supportive Leadership

(2) 90% Access to High-Quality Curriculum and Teaching Resources

(3) 89% Time for Teachers to Collaborate

(4) 89% Clean and Safe Building Conditions

(5) 86% a Collegial Work Environment

(6) 85% Professional Development that is relevant to Personal and School Goals

(7) 81% Higher Salaries

(8) 43% Opportunities for Alternate Careers

(9) 25% Pay Tied to Performance

We are supporting CNC Manufacturing Teachers with elements (2), (4) and (6) for effective and engaging technical education.

Source:  Jason Flom (@Eco_of_Ed) from the multi-author blog: Ecology of Education.
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Manufacturing Should Be Called: The Art of Import Replacement (and The Art of Saving Our Economy)

Posted by Bert Maes on May 3, 2011


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Jane Jacobs

So many times people are asking me: “We are living in a service-based economy. Manufacturing is not viable anymore. So what the **** are you doing there?

Well, my answer typically is:

Yes, we are living in a service-based economy: in high-income countries 75%-87% of the economic growth is generated by services. 13%-25% comes from goods-producing industries.

But the problem is: this is not creating wealth — it actually fuels our national debts.

We cannot live from services alone. Poor regions and nations typically import more than they can afford OR they fail to produce a wide, diverse, creative range of physical products and export them. Economic success is simply the result of a process of constant, new & differentiated exports.

What we should be doing is follow a very old concept invented by Jane Jacobs: the import-replacement theory. That would make us earn money… Today, we stay behind with importing stuff, losing money, governments that have to loan, and in the end can’t pay for the interest anymore, bringing us close to bankruptcy.

Also the banks still haven’t learned anything: they still have the luxury to play around with other people’s money. When they screw up, and lose millions, they don’t care. The government doesn’t mind. A manufacturing business instead gets the raw material in, and makes a finished product. “When you screw up, you pay from your own pocket,” says Franc CoenenThe economy is at risk when you count on companies that just sell ‘air’ and don’t add value.

An economy based more on making things and less on debt-fueling services would help to avoid domestic financial bubbles and add balance to the global economy,” Tom Saler adds. Only by restoring manufacturing can historic trade imbalances and high unemployment levels be expeditiously reduced and economic growth expanded to generate sufficient tax revenues to help ultimately balance the budget deficit.”

Is there a reason why we cannot be the best in the art of ‘import-replacing’ again?

The Chinese are not the problem. Jobs and industry always move to the cheapest and easiest manufacturing market.

In the 60s and 70s it was Japan, then South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong took the manufacturing lead in producing ‘junk’ products in large quantities. Those countries got better in higher quality products, the people grew richer, workers demanded higher wages and benefits and the local standards of living were raised, resulting in higher costs of production.

Now India and China are the biggest and best at this game. “But recently rising labor costs have pushed some Chinese manufacturing to places like Vietnam,” Tom Saler reports.

In her 2004 book Dark Age Ahead Jane Jacobs argued that our civilization shows signs of spiral of decline comparable to the collapse of the Roman empire. We depend on 5 pillars to stand firm, she says: family and community, education, science, representational government and taxes, and corporate and professional accountability.

So to be the industrial and innovative leader, we have to pay the costs of new technologies and the corresponding training. Being more innovative means having better people. The source of better skills and better productivity is better education and better training in science.

Our greatest resources for innovation are many young, independent, highly-skilled hands-on thinkers and creators. We can’t grow our economy if we can’t attract younger generations to our industry and if we keep forcing many of our schools to close their metal shops.

Key is the investment and involvement of companies into local technical schools. We must help our young people get interested in ‘making things’, in becoming leaders in manufacturing, in saving our economy.

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What Skills are Manufacturers Looking For?

Posted by Bert Maes on May 2, 2011


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If it were even possible to sum up change to the real world of today’s manufacturing in one sentence, it would be: “Fewer employees on more teams, using more technology to make crucial decisions more quickly.

Most production operations no longer require legions of employees who simply push buttons and follow an only occasionally varying routine. The modern factory is no longer a just giant building filled with hundreds of interchangeable low-skill, low-wage full-time employees.

Many growing manufacturing organizations report a greater need for workers with teamwork, decision making, technology, communication, and customer service skills.

Which key traits are most important to the immediate present as well as the future of manufacturing?

Changes in the required skills and traits for manufacturing personnel

To read the full article, click here.

Another article titled “The Future of Learning” reports on a 2020 forecast that outlines five surprisingly similar  learning priorities:

  1. Ability to verify information, recognize patterns, analyze data sets, and synthesize.
  2. Understanding of free enterprise and personal finance; appreciation of and ability to produce quality work products
  3. Success in making and critiquing an argument, participating on a diverse team, and dealing with paradox
  4. Ability to communicate in a variety of media, to participate in networks, and to navigate distributed organizations.
  5. Track record of personal management and initiative demonstrating independent work and judgment

This shows that the need for CNC machining specialists will grow in the next decade(s) and play a significant role in the future of manufacturing.

Most importantly, young people will need to bring high-tech skills and the ability to create more efficient manufacturing and supply chain processes and evolve in automated systems specialists and manufacturing process experts.


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