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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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Some publicity for my own projects: Haas Continues To Support Schools for a New Generation of Young CNC Top Talent

Posted by Bert Maes on November 12, 2010

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European Commission Endorses First European HTEC Student Exchange

The groundbreaking Haas Technical Education Centre (HTEC) CNC training programme recently received a resounding endorsement from the European Commission, which has agreed to sponsor and support the first international HTEC student exchange, in Spring 2011.

Between March 27th and April 9th, ten students and two teachers from the Belgian HTEC VTI St-Lucas Oudenaarde will travel to Sweden where they will work and study at host facility HTEC-Bäckadalsgymnasiet, in Jönköping. This exciting exchange is being staged and managed by Haas Automation Europe and five partner organisations, including the 2 HTECs, the Swedish Haas Factory Outlet (a division of Edströms) and two Swedish manufacturing companies, Linto and Fagerhult.

This is a very exciting development for the two pioneer schools and its students,” says Haas Europe HTEC coordinator, Mr. Bert Maes. “The HTEC network is the ideal platform for connecting schools, CNC teachers and students at an international level. Any school that commits to the HTEC program can benefit from international exchanges, and with the backing of the European Commission, HTEC students have wonderful opportunities to travel and learn.

This exchange program will allow teachers from the Belgian HTEC to cooperate with their Swedish colleagues and exchange ideas and best-practice for training young people as CNC machine tool specialists. At the state-of-the-art Swedish HTEC, the Belgian students will be further familiarised with the latest Haas CNC machine tools, as well as with new techniques in CAD/CAM, automatic welding, industrial design, 3D scanning and vacuum modeling.

The Swedish companies Linto and Fagerhult have agreed to mentor students during the ten days, with each student spending five days at each company. During their time at tool manufacturer Linto, the students will experience how the company’s 14 Haas CNC machines are employed and optimised in a demanding production environment. At Fagerhult, the students will study the manufacture of lighting systems, from raw material through to finished product, with a special focus on energy saving solutions and techniques.

Mr. Maes concludes: “From its investigation, the European Commission has ascertained that this HTEC student exchange is significant for European industry. The students will not only be exposed to innovative technologies, but they will also practice their skills in problem solving and working in teams, as well as learning how to adapt to different work cultures. We believe that companies who eventually hire these young specialists will benefit tremendously from their experience and international outlook.

HTEC – The Concept

The HTEC initiative is a partnership between European educational establishments, Haas Automation Europe (HAE), its distributor-owned HFOs (Haas Factory Outlets) and an alliance of industry leading, CNC technology partners. HAE launched the HTEC programme in 2007 to counter what it regards as one of the greatest threats to the continent’s sustainable economic development: Namely, a shortage of talented and motivated young people entering the precision engineering industry with CNC machining skills.

The programme provides Haas CNC machine tools to educational establishments in Europe, so enabling HTEC students to become familiar with the latest CNC machining technology. This hands-on experience ensures students graduate with transferable skills and better employment opportunities. Haas Technical Education Centres also benefit local and national engineering companies by increasing the supply of well-educated apprentices.

Since launch, the HTEC initiative has expanded rapidly across Europe. Governments – from Sweden to Romania and from Portugal to Russia – have enthusiastically backed the programme and recognise the need to build a stronger manufacturing infrastructure.

The HTEC Industry Partners are some of the best-known names in precision manufacturing technologies and have demonstrated a strong, ongoing commitment to the HTEC objectives, backing them with the investment of time and resources. Currently, the HTEC Industry Partner network comprises KELLER, MasterCam, Esprit, Renishaw, Sandvik Coromant, Schunk, Blaser, Urma, Chick, Air Turbine Technology, Hainbuch, and CIMCOOL.

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McKinsey: How to compete and grow: a guide to manufacturing priorities

Posted by Bert Maes on August 18, 2010

The McKinsey Global Institute has analyzed the performance of more than 20 countries and nearly 30 sectors, including the African continent, on what the best government manufacturing policies are to make those economies compete and grow during and after the current recession.

According to those studies, the best manufacturing policies first of all depend on two criteria

(1) Whether you live in a low-income, middle-income or high-income country;

(2) Whether you operate in an innovative start-up industry or in a mature sector.

(1.a.) The manufacturing situation in HIGH-INCOME economies
(in total 54 countries including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Austria, Belgium, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and the US):

  • Between 1995 and 2005 services generated ALL job growth in high-income countries, and between 75%-87% of the economic growth. Only 13-25% came from goods-producing industries. Between 1985 and 2005 manufacturing contributed 0,3% to growth, services accounted for 2,2%. The employment powerhouses and growth sources were retail trade, restaurants, construction and those services that bring process innovations. Some predict a substantial employment growth in IT &  telecom, private equity, construction and environmental services by 2014, as well as car & automotive manufacturing and mining, oil & gas machinery manufacturing.
  • These are of course statistics from 2005. Since then the situation changed drastically. The oversized financial industry did hurt the broader economy the past years. At this moment “making goods is — with exceptions — more productive than providing services, and rising productivity is the fundamental source of prosperity… a major nation must be able to maintain a balanced current and trade account over time, and goods are far more tradable than services. Without something to export, a nation will either become over-indebted or forced to reduce its standard of living,” says economist and author Jeff Madrick. Since there is no economy that would have sustained rapid growth without substantial contribution from its industrial sector, at this moment, increased growth depends on the performance of manufacturing! Today manufacturing is doing more to lead us out of the recession than any other industry.

(1.b.) Manufacturing situation in MID-INCOME countries
(In total 93 countries including Argentina, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Hungary, Jordan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Russia and Turkey)

  • 85% of net new jobs comes from service sectors, including utilities, broadband telecommunications, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants, finance and insurance, construction, IT and software activities, R&D, digital media etcetera.
  • But the manufacturing industry (including pharmaceuticals, radio-TV-communication equipment, motor vehicles, cloth and apparel, food, drinks, tobacco, oil, coal, basic material, agriculture and forestry) contributes 46% of all growth (Russia for example 39%, China 55%). So in these countries the performance of expanding industrial sectors is critical to the economy.

(1.c.) Manufacturing in LOW-INCOME countries (61 countries including the African continent, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, India and Nepal)

  • Educating has to be one of the highest priorities for public policy, to deliver the necessary trained business and scientific talent. Truly competing and winning in the long term will require local know-how and talent. Local capacity-building programs, attractive career paths, and apprenticeship opportunities will be critical to achieve sustained growth.
  • The other highest priorities include infrastructure development (transport, fuel, water, energy, port, airport, roads) and regulation, including a strong stable government, upholding the rule of law, creating a more predictable business environment. The current poor performance in these fields complicates the importation of equipment and materials, and makes the overall manufacturing costs very high.
  • Expanding manufacturing, however, increases exports and reduces the need the need for imports, easing these countries’ current-account deficits. So precisely manufacturing is essential to make continued investments in infrastructure and education.

(2.a.) Best government actions in MATURE manufacturing sectors

  • After being highly dynamic and generating growth to other sectors, the semiconductor industry today employs only 0.5% of the workforce. The last 15 years semiconductors didn’t generate sustained growth – public investments have led to very low returns.
  • There is a similar situation in the cleantech solar/wind power and biomass industry. The global markets in this area are already subject to heavy competition and as a result this market will not bring enormous job creation. The sector will remain too small to make a serious difference to economy-wide growth. New jobs in this green technology production is more likely to come from improving building insulation and replacing obsolete heating and cooling equipment.
  • Mature manufacturing markets best benefit from expanded infrastructure construction (roads, ports, high speed telecommunication, research labs, parks and training centers), improved access to capital, support in R&D through universities or other research funds, reduced trade protections, export assistance, faster and streamlined government regulations, enhanced access to raw materials and logistical effectiveness, focus on quality of education and technology-driven retraining to acquire a skilled workforce – at the right cost – that can continuously deliver new products for new generation of technology, in low-cost production.

(2.b.) Best government actions in INNOVATIVE START-UP industries

  • Protecting local producers has helped create local industries in a sector’s early development phase, but it led to low productivity and higher costs to consumers, with limited growth. Removing trade and investment barriers at the right time, with exposure to global competition, significantly improves performance and productivity.
  • Innovative high-quality ‘original technology’ industry start-ups should get government contracts, low-cost loans for investment, reduced raw materials/energy/logistics costs, long term large government investing in channeled R&D funding and expanding necessary education, support from private companies and university research to develop new technologies together, and attracting smaller companies to form clusters, which help create a sustainable pool of talent and expertise. But remember, this only works in brand-new industries.

Conclusion: designing and implementing manufacturing policies to improve growth and competitiveness are not easy. Taking into consideration the maturity of the country and the maturity of the industry will boost the odds of policy changes having a positive impact.

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Forecast + List: The Most Durable Jobs of the Future

Posted by Bert Maes on August 3, 2010

We do expect continued growth in manufacturing of a fairly modest 5% or so this year and next year — which is stronger than the overall economy. I guess there are a couple of things driving that: One is exports have done well and we expect to continue to see growth in exports. Second, there is some recovery in investment in capital goods. It’s mostly metals inventory rebuilding and replenishing factories for equipment that has gone beyond its useful life. It’s not really adding to productive capacity; it is productivity improvement and simply replacement. Investment in equipment and software is growing, but still far below 2007/2008 levels. The only way to get faster growth in manufacturing is to bump up the export share.


Energy-Efficient Automobiles
Computer Software Engineer jobs
Electrical Engineer jobs
Engineering Technician jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Computer-Controlled Machine Operator jobs
Production Worker jobs
Operations Manager jobs

Building Retrofitting
Electrician jobs
Heating/Air Conditioning Installer jobs
Carpenter jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Roofer jobs
Insulation Installer jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Construction Manager jobs
Building Inspector jobs

Mass Transit
Civil Engineer jobs
Railroad jobs
Electrician jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Production Worker jobs
Bus Driver jobs
Transportation Supervisor jobs
Dispatcher jobs

Wind Power
Environmental Engineer jobs
Iron and Steel Worker jobs
Millwright jobs
Sheet Metal Worker jobs
Electrical Assembler jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Production Manager jobs
Production Supervisor jobs

Solar Power
Electrical Engineer jobs
Electrician jobs
Machinery Mechanic jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Electrical Assembler jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Installation Technician jobs
Laborer jobs
Construction Manager jobs

Of course this all depends on
increased confidence of companies and consumers to invest,
healthier demand from exports markets,
streamlined permitting processes to start up exports,
a permanent favorable government business tax & fiscal policy in R&D, new technology, product development, increased efficiency etc,
easier access to low cost credit finance conditions,
and (6)
heavy & smart investments in technology-based education and export training.

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[VIDEO] Right on! The Problems and Solutions in Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on July 28, 2010

Outsourcing is not sustainable, it is not a business strategy.

To overcome the cost difference with low wage countries, businesses can be competitive by investing in technology, training and new manufacturing methods to raise productivity.

Innovation, high productivity, quality and more skilled workers are critical for keeping businesses competitive internationally.”

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What would be the best realistic manufacturing policy?

Posted by Bert Maes on July 12, 2010

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is now promoting its priorities and policy recommendations of its June 2010 “Manufacturing Strategy – For Jobs and a Competitive America”. The Business Roundtable has released a similar report: List Obstacles to Growth.

The message of all experts: government should take a greater role in making manufacturing (the foundation of the economy) more competitive and more productive. The NAM report says that all foreign countries use all the tools of their governments to support industry and as a result they outgun the United States.

Both NAM and the Business Roundtable rally against:

  • The high corporate taxes, especially the high tax rates for small businesses, as they are responsible for the bulk of the new jobs, and the best jobs;
  • The rigid labor regulations, wages and benefits, making flexible work arrangements impossible;
  • The tough environmental regulations without a global approach will impose additional expenses, create uncertainty and will damage the ability of manufacturers in the US to compete;
  • The non-existent R&D tax provisions that could stimulate investment, recovery, significant rise of GDP and strong job creation;
  • The insufficient focus on Intellectual Property and increased immigration (access qualified, highly skilled professionals around the glob e), which should both be fixed to remain competitive;
  • The unfair (tariff) trade barriers China, India, Brazil, Europe, South America, Canada and Australia are constructing to protect and promote their own domestic manufacturing companies;
  • The underfunded tools to help small and mid-sized manufacturing export such as trade fairs, marketing assistance and the export-import bank;
  • The energy dependence without sufficient domestic supply of energy, coal, hydropower, gas, nuclear, renewable and alternative fuels:
  • The poor infrastructure in transportation and high-speed communications;
  • The uncertainty and danger of the ever increasing employer mandates and business costs of the health care reform;
  • The disappointing quality of education as the majority of manufacturers in America face a serious shortage of qualified employees, and cannot be given the certainty that they are hiring a skilled technical workforce when recruiting from schools.

Or in other words “SHOW US THE MONEY!” And then I ask myself the eternal question:

  • Government spending with lasting corporate tax cuts to boost economy and thus increase export earnings (“the only way to get us out of the recession”), but first lending more billions from mainly China (The current US debt to China is $2 trillion or $2 000 000 000 000) and threatening the nation’s future stability (potential new financial crises), security and independence. Additionally, the current levels of debt will crowd out private capital. If less capital is available for corporate borrowers, it will retard future growth and investment, and, eventually, reduce consumer spending power.

Difficult choice, isn’t it?

Decision making is all about prioritizing your opportunities. And it should be a genuine mix of policies that pay quickly and policies that bring long-term strategic opportunities.

I see the US working hard on the latter ‘secondary‘ areas that support long term export opportunities, such as health-care, education, immigration and energy policies.

I also see the government is not taking away immediate fear. There are intentions to raise taxes on business.

That is probably the biggest challenge we all face during crisis, whether it’s a personal crisis or a global one: FEAR.

Governments all over the world will have to figure out how they are going to communicate the stability of their countries in a way that the citizens will understand and believe it. Government should show enough detail of the state financials so that firms and consumers know, beyond all doubt, that the country isn’t in ‘free fall’ and that customer spending is a safe bet. A president’s personal guarantee won’t be enough.

The job is to lift people’s heads, with policies that decrease the number of business failures and increase their odds of success. The job is to lessen the people’s fear. This is not the time for messages of high risk that emphasize inspiration, empowerment and innovation.  It’s the time for messages of low risk like protection, security and stability.

If governments show how they will protect jobs and reduce structural unemployment… they’re 90 percent on the way to further recovery.

What would be the best realistic manufacturing policy?

I am thinking about:

  • Lower corporate taxes and force banks to restore small business credit quickly to trigger investments in efficient manufacturing technology.
  • But keep the environmental and labor regulations to ensure the health, safety and quality of life of the people. I can live with the government intentions to award  federal contracts to companies that provide living wage, health care, retirement and paid sick leave and have fewer violations in labor and employment, tax, environment and antitrust.
  • “Develop a system of financial incentives: levy an extra tax on the product of off-shored labor [personal note: and on heavily polluting off-shored production?]. Keep that money separate. Deposit it in the coffers of what we might call the Scaling Bank of the U.S. and make these sums available to companies that will scale their American operations.” (Andrew Grove, co-founder and senior adviser to Intel Corp)
  • Bring better qualified, higher-skilled professionals inside manufacturing by restructuring immigration and starting to reform manufacturing education. The success of top-performing states – a Chamber of Commerce report points out – depends on their “ability to execute successful initiatives” in amongst others: basic education; “delivering adequate funding for initiatives; (…) enterprise-friendly tax and regulation systems; and vigorous collaboration between business, government and education.”

I believe a lot more is not possible under the current financial constraints and in the given four-year terms. The education reform will already take 10 to 15 years…

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[VIDEO] Where our economy can get a much-needed boost: Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on July 1, 2010

In the video below, financial (!) expert Vishesh Kumar explains why we should focus on high end manufacturing to truly move beyond the recession.

Lot of people are clammering for stimulus right now, Vishesh says, but that is NOT really what our economy needs. Current spending plans are feeding the elements in our economy that are too shaky.

What we need to do is providing adequate funding and invest in ventures that could be profitable over the long term. That includes manufacturing that is at the high end. Today growth is very strong in these items. indeed just reported that “mid the nation’s slow and stubborn economic recovery, an unlikely sector is showing surprising strength: manufacturing. The indisputably old economy stalwart has been growing and adding jobs in recent months, with companies ranging from equipment manufacturing Caterpillar to automaker Ford reporting an uptick in orders and business.

Manufacturing is the sector that’s been growing most strongly,” said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist with Capital Economics. Manufacturing is the bright spot!

But will the manufacturing sector have enough fuel, can we prolong our current robust manufacturing growth?

Yes, Vishesh, says, if we focus on sectors that can step up and lead, on resources that will feed sustainability, resources “that feed high end manufacturing“.

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The aging workforce: a competitive disadvantage – the necessary actions for the manufacturing sector

Posted by Bert Maes on June 29, 2010

Daily I talk about the problems in education and the resulting catastrophes manufacturing companies are facing in the near future. But many people have to act – not only teachers and school principals. Also enterprises must take significant and necessary steps to make sure the young perceive manufacturing as an interesting and rewarding career opportunity.

A new June 2010 report “The aging workforce: responsive actions for the manufacturing sector” is showing the manufacturing company leaders the way forward.

A quick summary:

In comparison to other sectors, the manufacturing sector’s demographic profile is disproportionately composed of older workers and men. 38% of the workers is aged 40-54 year, compared to 31% in other sectors of the economy. More than others, manufacturing employers will experience a large-scale exodus of older workers in the forthcoming years. The aging of the Baby Boomer generation is likely to have a greater impact on the manufacturing sector than on other sectors.

The question is: how can enterprises attract the young workforce to counter the inevitable exit of the older workers?

The good news is that manufacturing is transforming today. Changes in technology, the use of robots, computers, programmable motion control devices, and various sensing technologies makes the industry evolve away from traditional assembly line systems towards “lean” manufacturing systems that use teams of workers to produce entire products or components, that rotate through different tasks, rather than specializing in a single task.

That means that production work in this sector can no longer rely on lower educated individuals who labor on repetitious low-skilled tasks. Machinists using machine tools such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders, to produce precision metal parts, in most of the cases produce small batches or one-of-a-kind items. They have to use their knowledge of the working properties of metals and their skill with machine tools to plan and carry out the operations needed to make machined products that meet precise specifications. More and more employees can enjoy creative work. That is the good news, which is a significant incentive to attract new and the very best talent.

The other good news is that – while manufacturing workers have significantly less autonomy and fewer opportunities to change their work arrangements in comparison to workers in other sectors of the economy – especially younger workers get more freedom in deciding how to perform their work and are included in decision-making activities. This evolution for sure enhances commitment and talent stability.

The bad news is that working in manufacturing tends to be tiring work. Two in three middle-aged employees in the manufacturing sector – reported that they come home from work too tired to take care of their household chores at least several times a month.

More bad news is that in comparison to other sectors, workers in the manufacturing sector have less access to career progression and promotion programs and fewer options in terms of where, when, and how work is to be performed. All generations express a preference for access to flexible work options. That would increase business effectiveness and productivity. Likely, some rigidities stem from the imperatives of the production process, which can prohibit work off-site, work part-year, reduce work hours, choose work shift etcetera. But still…

On the other hand the authors of the report find evidence that enterprise size strongly predicts the availability of flexible options. One in four small manufacturers (those employing fewer than 100 workers) established flexible work options to a moderate or great extent, a rate that was two to three times higher than medium sized and large sized employers. For young people those small job shops look like the most promising career starts.

And a last – critical – observation is that manufacturers especially have difficulties in

  • recruiting competent job applicants,
  • finding new employees with satisfying operations skills levels,
  • absenteeism,
  • morale,
  • finding employees skilled in management,
  • legal skills
  • and sales/marketing skills.

Teachers of technical schools and parents are the people that can make the change in these skills and attitudes happen.

The manufacturing sector appears to be at a competitive disadvantage without education that leads the world, without redesigned human resource practices to the expansion of flexible work options, and without forward-looking employers…

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The 25 factors that underpin manufacturing competitiveness (US, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia)

Posted by Bert Maes on June 25, 2010

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According to a new report access to talent that supports innovation is the key factor driving global manufacturing competitiveness, well ahead of traditional factors such as cost of labor and materials and energy policies.

In the 2010 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, a joint report from Deloitte’s Global Manufacturing Industry group and the United States Council on Competitiveness, manufacturing executives identify talent-driven innovation as the most important competitive driver.

The quality and availability of skilled production workers, scientists, researchers, engineers, and teachers, who collectively have the capacity to continuously innovate and improve production efficiency, is the most significant driver of manufacturing competitiveness, the report says.

Talented people are giving companies the greatest potential for making a company innovative and for improving the overall competitiveness of the country. The capacity of a country thus largely depends on the quality of its education and training.

The quality of talented people is driving manufacturing innovation. Coupled with the costs of labor and materials and the costs of energy, these three are the “foundations” of manufacturing competitiveness.

After the key factors of production – labor, materials and energy – government forces have the most significant impact on manufacturing. These include environmental, institutional and infrastructural elements.

It is interesting to see the differences across continents:

  • Talent-driven innovation is the top driver of manufacturing competitiveness across global regions. The exception is Mexico and South America, where executives rate the quality of the physical infrastructure (roads, ports, electricity grids, telecom) as the most important.
  • European executives view energy costs and policies as the second most important driver. The European Union faces serious challenges concerning security of supply as the dependence of several member states on one single gas suppliers (Russia) makes the continent very vulnerable for shortfalls in supply and energy crises. So clearly manufacturers in Europe see the availability of cost-effective alternative energy as key to competitiveness and the springboard to leapfrog competing regions of the world. However a common energy policy in Europe is very controversial as many nations see access and sources of energy supply as too critical to national security and should remain under the control of member nations.
  • In the US between 50 and 60% of the respondents considered major current policy trends as very disadvantageous: (1) the bail outs that hinders competition and does not benefit business over the long term, (2) the corporate taxes making US manufacturers pay 18% more on taxes, natural gas, employee benefits and pollution abatement than a foreign competitor making a similar product, and (3) the increasing costs of healthcare that will stifle manufacturers’ ability to grow and create jobs.
  • In China on the other hand the lack of access to healthcare and insurance is seen as very disadvantageous, as that is a major contributor to poverty in China. Low levels of insurance coverage have resulted in high savings rates and reduced consumption – key determinants of economic growth. China’s leaders recognize that they need to improve the equity and efficiency of the healthcare system, which plays a critical role in the economy.

Overall the study concludes that difficulties in accessing an empowered talent base are likely to contribute to the United States and Europe becoming less globally competitive in the next five years.

…Time to act towards attractive, inspiring and advanced manufacturing education…

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The 7 Skills We Should Teach in Technical Education

Posted by Bert Maes on May 18, 2010

We are far from recovery, but I believe it is smart to think today about what will happen in three years.

A new survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), among 694 employers, collectively employing over 2.4 million people, or 8% of all those in employment in the UK, has revealed that the demand for people with high-quality skills and qualifications will intensify.

The CBI report, entitled ’Ready to grow: business priorities for education and skills’ shows 7 clear priorities for technical education.

The past few years, employers just wanted to survive. Now step-by-step, our companies are focusing again on strategies that will improve their productivity and performance.

Employers recognize that all public spending will be under pressure in the years ahead. But, that is what makes it all the more important that resources should be used to best effect.

So what are the skills manufacturing companies are looking for to be able to continue to play a significant role in our economic recovery?

  • Already today, 65% of the UK employers in manufacturing struggle to find the technical talent they need. 77% of the manufacturing employers are not confident of being able to recruit highly-skilled staff in the next three years. As a result the focus of education should be on intermediate and higher-level skills.
  • Two thirds of the employers (65%) believe gaining practical work experience is the most valuable step young people can take to improve their prospects. 71% of businesses believe that providing high-quality practical education and work placement is the best strategy to help encourage STEM study.
  • 70% of the employers want to see a stronger focus on employability skills. 57% of the surveyed people are unhappy with young people’s self management skills – being able to accept responsibility in the workplace and manage their time effectively. 68% of the employers are dissatisfied with young people’s business and customer awareness, i.e. having a basic grasp of customer satisfaction, profit and loss and other key drivers for business success. Also teamwork skills (34%) and problem solving (analyzing facts and creative thinking – 44%) are seen as major areas of dissatisfaction.
  • 63% want to see improved essential skills of literacy and numeracy. Half of respondents express concern about the basic literacy skills (52%) and numeracy skills (49%) of their current workforce. These skills include composing coherent written communications, or working through basic arithmetic and percentages, such as calculating change or working out a discounted price. Concerns about IT skills are higher still, with 66% of the firms expressing concern.
  • Achieving improved performance in business depends on leadership and management capabilities in an organization. 69% see better leadership and management skills as a strategic priority, with high growth expectations for these roles in the next three to five years.
  • Over two thirds of the employers (71%) are not satisfied with the foreign language skills of young people and 55% perceive shortfalls in their international cultural awareness. The UK companies especially demand skills in French (49%), Mandarin/Cantonese (44%), German (34%), and Spanish (32%). Thus, the trend towards internationalization in technical education should be reinforced.
  • Employers are ready to build partnerships with schools to achieve their long term goals.  They especially are looking for cost-effective routes for delivering training, which include online programs, in-house training where possible, and especially specialized training focused on those areas and activities yielding the best return (pointing again for the pressing need of high-level skills taught in our education).

What are the subjects that would be most likely to lead to a job?

42% of the surveyed companies say young job seekers should pick business studies, while 21% suggest Maths was best for career prospects and 13% said English. Psychology and Sociology were at the bottom of the list of requirements.

>> Dear reader: my thesis is that manufacturing education should try to integrate the newest technologies, good maths, leadership skills and several languages. What is your take?

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Hey Manufacturing! Stop Whining. Start Marketing.

Posted by Bert Maes on April 22, 2010

From The eMarketing Blog

Last week U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner visited a local factory where Allegheny Technologies produces specialty metal plates.  He was trying to point out that heavy industry can succeed here even with tough competition from abroad.

Geithner said the sector “will play a critical role in helping to spur our economic recovery and contribute to our long-term prosperity.”

US lobbyists and labor unions have been pushing for the Administration to take a tough stance on China’s currency policies. But whether government does or doesn’t: the real question isn’t what China does or doesn’t do.  Competition is never a level playing ground.  Ask the auto industry:  they’ve won and lost.  And are now crawling back. Even Toyota — with all its recent problems — is seeing sales rise.

How?  It’s all about good marketing.  You can put all the limits you want on manufactured imports, but people aren’t going to buy domestic products unless they’re marketed properly.  Detroit had to figure this out the hard way and now they’re finally making smarter decisions about the cars they manufacture in terms of fuel efficiency, features, and pricing.

US manufacturing needs to stop pulling on the apron strings of Lady Liberty and start learning how to better market and sell to diverse buyers.  Today’s marketplace — even B2B — is crowded and competitive.  No one’s going to pick up the local phone book today and look for your phone number to call in an order.  The world of marketing has changed.

  • If you haven’t noticed: it’s all about Global Search via Google or Bing or other search engines.  It’s about personalized marketing through email and behaviorally-targeted ad placements.
  • It’s about knowing your customer and knowing how they want to receive information from you about products you sell or services you offer.

>> You want to win in the global manufacturing marketplace? Stop whining.  Start doing better marketing.


I have pointed to the same conclusion in talking about technical/manufacturing schools and teachers in the post “Why We’re Failing Math and Science in Engineering:

We will need:

  • Better Marketing
  • Better Teaching
  • Better Training Equipment

As an example for “better marketing” I have written about a technical college in Sweden, a true success story with lessons for the entire education community. Have a look at: What can make the difference between success and failure of a school?… and comment.

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[Video] CNN Showcases the True Face of Modern Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on April 20, 2010

AT LAST! Major media is finally portraying today’s manufacturing careers correctly!

CNN’s Tony Harris reports on the new high-tech jobs taking the place of old-style manufacturing. He has seen the company ADEX Machining Technologies in South Carolina USA from the inside, making metal parts for the aerospace and energy industries, via CNC programming and CNC machining.

The employees here, the video shows, spend as much time in the office as on the shop floor. They don’t just push the buttons of the machines, they also program the machines using CAM computer systems. Each worker is a highly competent programmer, machinist ànd quality control engineer. What typically was three different jobs, is now wrapped into one… That is what is called “lean manufacturing“.

And exactly THAT is extremely satisfying and empowering for the workers: “We take what is on paper and we can bring it to life“.

Using their computers to tell the machine where to drill holes in the piece of metal, going to the factory floor and actually making it happen, while still stimulating their brains… that is what the workers love about their modern high-tech manufacturing job.

This “New Face of Blue Collar Workers” is commonplace for the people who know today’s manufacturing companies.

But I’m 100% sure that the CNN video is  highly revealing to the general public and goes a long way in dispelling the old stereotype of manufacturing.


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Press Release: New high-tech manufacturing training center in Austria

Posted by Bert Maes on April 5, 2010

By Matt Bailey

It’s appropriate that one of Europe’s most prosperous and industrious areas should also have the biggest and, perhaps, the most impressive Haas Technical Education Centre (HTEC) facilities.

On May 7th, 2010, the Überbetriebliches Ausbildungszentrum (ÜAZ) technical training establishment, in Vorarlberg, in the western-most region of Austria will officially open an HTEC boasting no fewer than 27 Haas CNC machines. The new, benchmark facility is part of the ÜAZ Metall department and will be located in Rankweil, in the beautiful Rhine Valley. It will be the 4th HTEC in Austria – the country also has the second and third biggest HTECs – and the 40th in Europe.

We are very excited about the grand opening of the ÜAZ Metall HTEC,” says Mr. Bert Maes, HTEC coordinator at Haas Europe, “not only because of the number of Haas machines it will employ, but also because it is such a good example how industry and education can work together to change the lives of young people for the better.

ÜAZ Metall offers practical training to youths who are socially or economically disadvantaged. The HTEC will give 100 students a year the hands-on experience they need to make better lives and successful careers as CNC technologists.

In economic terms, Vorarlberg is one of the best-performing regions of Western Europe, with flourishing textile, clothing, electronics, machinery and packaging sectors. Those who follow courses at HTEC ÜAZ Metall will be very well trained and well-prepared for careers in Austrian metal working companies or others further afield.

Our goal is to provide a top-quality technical education for youngsters who have fewer opportunities than others,” says general manager of ÜAZ Metall, Mr. Manfred Gollob. “We try to give the best possible, real-industry know-how to students otherwise unfamiliar with the metalworking sector. Being part of the HTEC network with its support, technology and public relations benefits will help tremendously; I think we have definitely found the right partner in Haas.”

The HTEC program was launched in Europe to counter what Haas Automation regards as one of the greatest threats to sustainable economic development on the continent: the shortage of talented and motivated young people entering precision manufacturing industries with CNC machining skills.

ÜAZ Metall is a highly dedicated partner,” concludes Mr. Maes, “and we are committed to offering our full support to the teachers and staff; to inspire young people to study manufacturing technology, to help build their confidence and to start long and successful careers as CNC specialists.

HTEC – The Concept

The HTEC initiative is a partnership between European educational establishments, Haas Automation Europe (HAE), its distributor-owned HFOs (Haas Factory Outlets) and an alliance of industry leading, CNC technology partners. HAE launched the HTEC programme in 2007 to counter what it regards as one of the greatest threats to the continent’s sustainable economic development: Namely, a shortage of talented and motivated young people entering the precision engineering industry with CNC machining skills.

The programme provides Haas CNC machine tools to educational establishments in Europe, so enabling HTEC students to become familiar with the latest CNC machining technology. This hands-on experience ensures students graduate with transferable skills and better employment opportunities. Haas Technical Education Centres also benefit local and national engineering companies by increasing the supply of well-educated apprentices.

Since launch, the HTEC initiative has expanded rapidly across Europe. Governments – from Sweden to Romania and from Portugal to Russia – have enthusiastically backed the programme and recognise the need to build a stronger manufacturing infrastructure.

The HTEC Industry Partners are some of the best-known names in precision manufacturing technologies and have demonstrated a strong, ongoing commitment to the HTEC objectives, backing them with the investment of time and resources. Currently, the HTEC Industry Partner network comprises KELLER, MasterCam, Esprit, Renishaw, Sandvik Coromant, Schunk, Blaser, Urma, Chick, Air Turbine Technology, Hainbuch, and CIMCOOL.

Dedicated website for technical education institutions:

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10 ways to attract women to manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on March 25, 2010

After publishing the popular blog post “ways to enhance teens’ interest in manufacturing” a reader pointed me to a specific key problem we are facing today: attracting women to manufacturing. That is indeed a great topic to write about.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are widely regarded as critical to be competitive in the global economy. Just over 4% of the workforce is employed directly in science, engineering, and technology. This relatively small group of workers is considered to be critical to economic innovation and productivity.

So, expanding and developing the STEM workforce is a critical issue for government, industry leaders, and educators. A key challenge is attracting women to manufacturing. Men continue to outnumber women. The difference is dramatic, with women earning only 6,7% of bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering. In a 2009 survey only 5% of the girls said they were interested in an engineering career. But…attracting and retaining more women in the manufacturing workforce will maximize innovation, creativity, and competitiveness.

The report “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” (by the American Association of University Women), bringing together eight recent research conclusions, addresses why there are still so few women in manufacturing, despite the fact that women in engineering tend to earn more than women in other sectors; despite the fact that many STEM careers can provide women increased earning potential and greater economic security.


It is a psychological belief in our culture that … women lack the aptitude to succeed in STEM fields.

Hearing or sensing such thoughts and misconceptions in the immediate environment is affecting individual career choices! It is simply breaking down girls’ self-confidence in their math and science ability.

Many girls believe that they are “not good” in math and engineering, because they just notice in our culture that women in manufacturing careers are inappropriate. It is a societal expectation for girls to consider future education and careers in the humanities, life and health sciences or social sciences rather than engineering fields. A survey with more than a half million people from around the world has shown that more than 70 percent of the test takers associated “male” with science and “female” with arts. The idea that girls aren’t good at science is simply floating in the air we breathe. This is how we prevent girls and women from pursuing engineering. Such implicit beliefs directly influence parents’ decisions to encourage or discourage their daughters from pursuing science and engineering careers.


First, girls today are even earning slightly higher grades in math and science! However, the false belief that girls are not as capable in math and science as boys actually lowers girls’ test performance. To avoid failure, girls simply avoid math and science altogether. If girls do not believe they have the ability to become an engineer, they will disengage from STEM as a potential career and choose to be something else.

  1. When schools, workplaces, the home environment and individuals send the message that girls and boys are equally capable of achieving in math and science, girls are more likely to assess their abilities more accurately, are more likely to succeed and are more likely to see manufacturing as a viable career choice.
  2. Teachers have to learn the girls in their classrooms that intelligence is changeable, developed through effort, dedication, persistence and challenges. The more teachers and parents can show self-improvement (and not inherent ability) as the road to genius, and the more they can help girls to enjoy that effort, the more confident, the more interested and the more excited they will be.
  3. Manufacturing skills are perfectly acquirable for girls. Math skills, but especially “spatial skills” (such as mental rotation of objects, mechanical drawing, sketching multi-view drawings of simple objects) is seen as essential to success in engineering, because these skills are needed to interpret diagrams and drawings. It is a fact that in “spatial thinking” men consistently outperform women. Many girls leave their engineering education, frustrated because they can’t cope with this aspect. However, a practical training course in “spatial skills” improves the average scores in such tests from an average score of 52% before taking the class to 82% after taking it. Offering this kind of training in middle school or earlier will make a big difference in girls’ choices. They will be more likely to develop their confidence and consider a future in a STEM field.
  4. Those spatial skills are also developed by encouraging children to play with construction toys such as Legos, take things apart and put them back together again, play games that involve fitting objects into different places, draw, and work with their hands. This actually gives an immediate, strong engagement and intense connection with engineering from an early age. In fact, according to Bayer, interest in engineering begins early childhood, i.e. by age 11!!

Second, many girls are not interested in manufacturing, as too often the training programs are focused on the machines, the technical aspects of programming, and not on the broader applications. As a result many girls leave their STEM education early in their school careers. 60% of a Bayer survey of 1226 women cited that the school is the leading place where discouragement from pursuing a STEM career happens. According to 70% elementary school teachers play a bigger role than parents in stimulating and sustaining interest in engineering.

  1. Teachers (and parents) forget to project manufacturing specialists as people making a social contribution, as people beneficial for society, as problem solvers of some of the most vexing challenges of our time— tackling global warming, providing people with clean drinking water, developing renewable energy sources, designing many of the things we use daily—buildings, bridges, computers, cars, wheelchairs, and X-ray machines. That expansion of the field makes manufacturing more meaningful. Curricula have to be redesigned with adding introductory courses that show the wide variety of manufacturing applications and career opportunities.

Bayer concludes that the top three causes/contributors to underrepresentation in STEM include

  • Lack of quality science and math education programs  (75%),
  • Persistent stereotypes that say STEM isn’t for girls or minorities (66%)
  • Financial issues related to the cost of education (53%)

Dr. Julie Martin Trenor concludes there are still many barriers for women:

  • Confidence in math/science abilities
  • Poor math preparation
  • Lack of K-12 engineering courses
  • Lack of female engineering role models (90% know an engineer) or few role models available in the public eye. Engineers are rarely portrayed in prime time television, unlike lawyers (in Law & Order) and Doctors (in Grey’s Anatomy, E.R., House)
  • Parental encouragement
  • Peer pressure to go into “popular” programs
  • Negative messages, gender-biased attitudes exist everywhere


Job satisfaction is a key to retention of women in manufacturing. Female STEM specialists express lower job satisfaction than do their male peers. This lower satisfaction leads to a loss of talent in manufacturing. In high-tech companies, more than 41% of their female employees quit their jobs (compared with only 17% of their male employees) by midcareer – about 10 years into their careers.

  1. Isolation and lack of mentoring are particularly acute source of dissatisfaction. For women in STEM good professional and personal interactions with colleagues, management interest in their professional development are critically important for women.
  2. The ability to balance work and family responsibilities also contributes to overall satisfaction. For many women in manufacturing it is difficult to just pack up and go home, as they see that as deadly for their careers. Many women have the impression that to be successful, they have to achieve exceptionally high levels to be noticed among all those men. It is important to create reasonable work schedules and to not penalize women for reduced productivity while having young children.
  3. Child care is a huge issue in this. Establishing universal, high-quality child supports work-life balance and is critical to female job satisfaction.
  4. When a woman in manufacturing is being successful, she is immediately judged as cold, pushy, too macho and not charming enough. When a woman is clearly competent in a “masculine” manufacturing job, she is considered to be less likable. The big problem is that being disliked appears to have clear consequences for evaluation and recommendations about reward allocation, including salary levels, ie. their overall career outcomes. So in the manufacturing industry, women have to do MORE than men: they have to be competent ànd tough ànd understanding ànd concerned about others ànd helpful ànd increase her employees’ sense of belonging, etcetera. There is a need for fairness of evaluation: clear criteria for success, clear rules about advancement and transparency in the evaluation process.
  5. Expose local school students to the female employees in your company, who can describe the lives of female engineers, who can talk about the people-oriented (away from the antisocial geek image) and socially beneficial aspects of engineering, who can help students see their struggles in class as a normal part of the learning process rather than as a signal of low ability… who can show girls that female engineers can be successful. You can find a few examples in our section “Women in Manufacturing

Bayer and Dr. Trenor conclude that the leading workforce barriers for female manufacturing specialists include

  • it is harder for women to succeed in their field than it is for men (70%)
  • managerial bias (40%)
  • company/organizational/institutional bias (38%)
  • lack of professional development (36%)
  • no/little access to networking opportunities (35%)
  • lack of promotional/advancement opportunities (35%)
  • Isolation
  • To attract women to manufacturing the field and profession should be socially-conscious, application-driven, and team-based.

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China’s manufacturing industry becoming less competitive

Posted by Bert Maes on February 28, 2010

Have you read my article: How Manufacturers Can Compete With Low Wage Countries?

Last Friday New York Times, elaborated on one of the crucial aspects: workforce education.

My point of investing in education for more skilled workers (as a crucial competitive advantage as our high labor costs are directly linked with insufficient focus on manufacturing education) is being supported:

China is facing an increasingly acute labor shortage. The country is running out of fresh laborers for its factories. A government survey three years ago of 2,749 villages in 17 provinces found that in 74 percent of them, there was no one left behind who was fit to go work in city factories — the labor pool was dry.

Some manufacturers, already weeks behind schedule because they can’t find enough workers, are closing down production lines and considering raising prices.

Unskilled factory workers in China’s industrial heartland are being offered signing bonuses. Factory wages have risen as much as 20 percent in recent months, giving Chinese families more spending power (probably manufacturing industry wages could double in the next five years).

However, rising wages could lead to greater inflation in China, eroding some of China’s formidable advantage in export markets. The prospect of rising wages suggests that companies with high labor costs could experience margin pressure. Such increases would most likely drive up the prices for all sorts of Chinese-made goods, to import in the United States and the European Union.

This reality of Chinese talent shortage a.o. will re-shore manufacturing back to the western world, according to Mike Collins, Author, Saving American Manufacturing:

  • Chinese manufacturers have trouble in guaranteeing their US and European customers accurate delivery dates because of unforeseen delays in the supply chain;
  • Chinese manufacturers will have more difficulties to make quick changes in the manufacturing process – Without a strong workforce, it will be harder for them to quickly customize products.
  • The risks involved with a supplier in China get bigger. Western manufacturers have begun to pull their supply chains back closer to their markets, closer to their customers – which are asking for custom-made solutions and just in time delivery.
  • Harry Moser, chairman emeritus at Agie Charmilles points to the “costs of regulatory compliance, potential intellectual property loss, visits to overseas vendors, potential product quality problems, high foreign wage inflation and carrying extra inventory as cushion against late or damaged shipments.” (
  • Challenges in manufacturing offshore are legion, Brian Bethune – a chief U.S. financial economist – said. Infrastructure can be undependable, including frequent electrical brownouts in some regions of China. Manufacturing is often plagued by quality problems, rendering products unfit to sell in more sophisticated markets. Language and cultural barriers pose difficulties. Negotiating governmental expectations and hurdles, especially in China, is a huge issue. (

China might be less competitive in the coming years; however, and that doesn’t surprise me at all: the Chinese government is rapidly reacting, with expanded postsecondary education. Universities and other institutions of higher learning enrolled 6.4 million new students last year, compared to 5.7 million in 2007 and just 2.2 million in 2000.

This reality of Chinese talent shortage will re-shore manufacturing back to the western world:

· Chinese manufacturers have trouble in guaranteeing their US and European customers accurate delivery dates because of unforeseen delays in the supply chain;

· Chinese manufacturers will have more difficulties to make quick changes in the manufacturing process – It will be harder for them to quickly customize products, without a strong workforce.

· The risks involved with a supplier in China get bigger. Western manufacturers have begun to pull their supply chains back closer to their markets, closer to their customers – which are asking for custom designed solutions and just in time delivery.

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Study: Cognitive Skills Completely Describe Economic Growth

Posted by Bert Maes on January 28, 2010

A new study from the OECD provides evidence of the link between educational attainment and prosperity.

Published on January 27th, the study, entitled “The high cost of low educational performance”, asks “Why do some countries succeed economically while others don’t?

Their answer is: economies with better cognitive skills in mathematics and science innovate at a higher rate, generate more ideas and new technologies and improve their productivity much faster.

The OECD continues: “Regional growth over the last four decades is completely described by differences in cognitive skills”. The math and science skills of the labor force are directly related to economic growth.

This actually says that:

  • raising cognitive skills are a crucial force in economic development;
  • improvement in the quality of schools is so very important;
  • the potential gains from improving school is truly enormous;
  • educational achievements transform economies.

An improvement of 50-point higher average in mathematics and science performance in PISA scores generates a 0.87% higher economic growth every year.

Or even a 25-point increase in PISA scores, makes the GDP in 2042 rise more than 3% higher than what would be expected without improvements in cognitive skills. This would increase to a 5.5% improvement in 2050, 14.2% in 2070, and in 2090 about 25% above the “education as usual” level.

Over many decades, the small rise in average 0,87% annual growth rates could bring a stonking $115 trillion in extra wealth for its member countries by 2090, the OECD reckons.

You can see this is a long-term perspective, but still, the report concludes “the enormous economic gains, put in terms of current GDP, far outstrip the value of short-run business-cycle management of current issues of economic recession”.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has cut $1 billion in California, the British government reduces spending on higher education by $980 million, half of American states will have spent all of their stimulus money ($787 billion) for education by the end of July. Cuts will follow, says the Economist.

These actions might be necessary (which I personally doubt), but the long-run issues should not be neglected. The economic value of successful school reform far exceeds any conceivable costs of improvement.

Countries must make substantial changes in raising the quality of learning outcomes now to reap the future benefits.

>> READ FULL STUDY: The High Cost of Low Educational Performance – The Long-Run Economic Impact of Improving PISA Outcomes (OECD, January 27th, 2010)

We welcome your views.

UPDATE: an additional graphic:

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A Framework for Revitalizing Manufacturing EDUCATION

Posted by Bert Maes on January 22, 2010

Two reports have recently been released about revitalizing the United States manufacturing industry: President Obama’s FRAMEWORK FOR REVITALIZING AMERICAN MANUFACTURING, December 16th, 2009 AND Manufacturing Resurgence – a Must for US Prosperity, Joel Popkin & Kathryn Kobe , January 21st, 2010


Ian Fraser stated in his “Economics for Business”: “The Only Sustainable Competitive Advantage is LEARNING”: Products can be copied. Processes can be copied. Services can be copied. >> So how does a company create a sustainable advantage over competitors???

Innovation Nation, John Kao

Whole industries have emerged from inventions of Edison, Bell, and the Wright Brothers. US leadership springs from the willingness of American inventors to challenge conventional wisdom,” according to John Kao.

= Know-how is the foundation for tomorrow’s innovations. So we will have to create a national culture in which individuals and enterprises LEARN MORE QUICKLY THAN ITS COMPETITORS.

Education should be THE national growth strategy, focusing on massive funding for education, to give our country the engineers and inventors to thrive in a high-tech global economy,” John Kao added.

Popkin, Kobe & Obama follow the same vision on education in their frameworks for revitalizing manufacturing:

  • Labor in our manufacturing industry is more costly than it is in other parts of the world. An important way to keep the total cost of labor competitive is to maximize the productivity of each hour of labor.
  • The essential factor to accelerate and enhance productivity, is a skilled, well-trained workforce. Building world-class products using new cleaner, more efficient, more sustainable manufacturing process technologies (such as robotics and advanced materials), demands a workforce with an increasingly advanced set of skills and competencies.

  • = A leading incentive for offshoring is ‘race for talent’. IBM has built a new research center in Shanghai, China, because of the rich pool of science and engineering talent in China, as well as the continued commitment to expand collaboration with academic institutions.
  • A skilled workforce is the lifeblood of R&D, the lifeblood of innovation and competitiveness. Only those nations that continue to invest in highly skilled and talented workforce will stay competitive in the long run.
  • The United States must meet the long-term demand for workers with math and science training, to maintain the US manufacturing industry’s ability to compete worldwide. Other countries are already making significant strides in R&D in some of these areas and are manufacturing the leading edge products.
  • We will have to improve our education quality to meet employer needs. That means building programs that:
  • encourage partnerships with businesses and other educational institutions;
  • modernize technical schools’ facilities;
  • expand high-quality online course offerings;
  • focus on technical retraining in order to smooth the transition of employees from one manufacturing industry to another;
  • promote inhouse manufacturing worker training & broaden opportunities for career advancement;
  • make college more affordable for unemployed workers to pursue educational opportunities that will lead to good jobs and career pathways;
  • improve early childhood education that nurtures math and science proficiency.

An education program that fits nicely into this framework is the “Haas Technical Education Center” concept from It is set up as a long-term partnership program between education and manufacturing industry, in which the company Haas Automation, inc. helps technical schools towards:

–      Attractiveness & getting more students;

–      Higher motivation of young people;

–      Saving teachers time via offering them proven CNC teaching materials for direct use in the classroom;

–      Supporting the quality of instruction and the performance of student learning;

–      Helping the school to build a very strong reputation and competitiveness in the field of manufacturing education (and beyond);

–      Bringing education closer to the workplace and the “real industry”;

–      Bringing the training directly into line with the needs of the local manufacturing industry, etc.

Check to get amazing offers for your CNC manufacturing classes.

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From Unemployed to Machinist to Businessman: A Training Success Story

Posted by Bert Maes on January 20, 2010

Need a machinist? So do a lot of other companies. The problem is finding available, qualified machinists.

Even under the current economic downturn, the demand for engineers, machinists and machine operators remains high. Those three professions have made Manpower Inc.’s “Annual 10 Hardest Jobs to Fill” list in each of the past four years.

But, that concern is not as acute in the Los Angeles area as a result of a series of training centers operated by the Haas Technical Education Center: National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA). Since the facilities opened in 1968, over 15,000 machinists and operators have used the centers to learn their trade.

A case study: Shawn Gorman

When Shawn Gorman was laid off from his last job, he saw it as an opportunity to reflect upon what he really wanted to do with his life. He realized he’d always liked working with his hands. He had taken classes in auto mechanics while in high school, but had always wanted to take a metalworking class.

So, finding himself with free time on his hands, Shawn enrolled in a training program at the NTMA Training Center in Fremont, California. In August, Shawn joined a class with 19 other students, and together they learned the fundamentals of machining on manual mills and lathes. After learning the basics on manual machines, Shawn was prepared for the automated controls of CNC machines. “It was a very easy transition,” he says.

In module one, we teach students with no knowledge of machining that ‘this is a mill, this is a lathe.’ When they finish all five modules – which is 725 hours – they’re well prepared to start their careers,” said Jim Ragaisis, director of training for the NTMA Training Centers’ Ontario campus.

Right from the start, we emphasize application mathematics,” says Ragaisis. “We tell students we’re going to use a lot of math and trigonometry. That scares them a little, but they can get past that. We bring it to life for them. We show them the academic math, bring it into a technical arena, then take them into the shop and demonstrate how to apply the math and make it work for them.

The training center takes people who are unemployed and, if they qualify, trains them free of charge. This makes the goal of the program simple – train people to become employable machinists.

Shawn Gorman graduated from the program in December, and in just a few months he became a full-time CNC machinist, and a part-time businessman making his own parts. He was employed by a fellow graduate of the NTMA training center. “I made 12 calls to machine shops in the area,” explains Shawn. “I went to two interviews, and at the second one, the guy hired me. He was a graduate of NTMA and he knew the kind of intensive, relevant education I had gotten there.”

Shawn wasn’t even sure what a machinist did when he discovered the training center on the Internet. “The perception I had of a machinist was kind of the one you would see in an old textbook. You open up a book and see an old guy with glasses, a long shop coat and old equipment,” says Shawn. “But when I got into the course, I realized there’s a lot of technology behind it. It’s a completely different world than I imagined. This is really high-tech stuff.

The training center offers extensive hands-on training in entry-level machining, as well as advanced courses in CNC machining, programming and inspection, using Haas Automation vertical machining centers and turning centers, and Haas CNC control simulators for classroom instruction. ”We have six simulators for students to practice programming, along with seven Haas vertical machining centers  and eight Haas CNC lathes. We wouldn’t have any CNC equipment without Haas,” said Tony Tammer, former director of training.

The NTMA training center in Fremont is also a Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC), meaning it has an official partnership with the local Haas Factory Outlet. The goal of the HTECs is for students to take theory out of the classroom and apply it in a manufacturing environment.

The NTMA training center works closely with the Haas training department to improve instructional materials, so that students are prepared to enter the workforce. “It has been great to work with Haas to make sure the students are getting the best training available,” says Tony.

We specialize in machining,” says Ragaisis. “We have no other subjects. Our instructors have many years of experience in the industry. They all come from the field and teach practical, useful knowledge and application. Some instructors have their own shops or consult for industry, and some have European experience. We bring all that experience and knowledge to our students. That’s what we do best.”

Shawn feels the training was just what he needed. “I use another brand of machine where I work now, but when I started the job, I didn’t know anything about them,” Shawn says. ”I wish I could have stayed on Haas machines, but the training prepared me for any type of CNC machine.”

Shawn now works at Omega Precision in Tracy; he loves working in a job shop. “I love being a machinist,” he says, “and it took me all of about two months to get into my own enterprise through the shop. I’m working at the shop, but I’m also designing and making my own aftermarket automotive parts.

The training center prepared Shawn to be a machinist, and from there he has been able to apply the skills to his own interests. So far, Shawn has designed five types of gearshift knobs that he machines out of 304 stainless steel.

For Shawn, the NTMA training center was the perfect fit of technology and hands-on application. With his new love for machining, he hopes to expand his own business of aftermarket auto parts. ”If things keep going the way they are,” Shawn says, “maybe someday I’ll have my own shop and Haas machines.”



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Unique program to make CNC education attractive grows unabated

Posted by Bert Maes on January 11, 2010

The company Haas Automation Europe has formed four new partnerships with technical schools to attract a new generation of young people to start careers in manufacturing technology.

The largest CNC machine-tool builder in the Western world has opened 36 Haas Technical Education Centers (HTEC) the last 2 years.

A few reactions from the four Russian schools that just joined the HTEC network:

  • Being part of the HTEC network enables us to achieve several of our missions, such as increasing student motivation, expanding our existing co-operation with enterprises in Moscow and beyond, and boosting the prestige of our school.” (Natalia Bokatuk, Polytechnic College n° 42)
  • This new step will raise our school’s appeal to students considerably and enables us to play a vital role in preparing the highly-skilled personnel that our republic urgently needs. We will develop further as an innovative centre covering all modern technologies.” (Shakurov Zumejra Munirovna, Kazan Energy College)
  • Companies around the world face great difficulties in recruiting CNC operators with the right competencies.  These HTECs show students that precision engineering is an exciting world with well-paid jobs.” (Peter Hall, Haas Automation Europe)

FULL ARTICLE: Four new HTECs Bring Total in Russian Federation to 12!

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We are seeing a global recovery in manufacturing – Increased hiring expected!

Posted by Bert Maes on January 7, 2010

  • The US manufacturing index read 55.9 in December after 53.6 in November. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

    Ready for liftoff

  • The US index of new orders, a signal of future production, jumped last month to 65.5 from 60.3 in November, the highest level in five years.
  • CHINA”s manufacturing sector expanded at its fastest rate in 20 months in December.
  • In EUROPE, a similar survey in the 16 countries that use the euro rose to a 21-month high
  • A manufacturing index for BRITAIN rose to a 25-month high.

What we’re seeing is a global recovery in manufacturing that will be more pronounced than the economic recovery as a whole,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics.

That could lead to increased hiring and job creation as manufacturers ramp up production.

Read full article: U.S. Manufacturing Growth Accelerates In December By Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer Manufacturing.Net – January 04, 2010

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