National Association of Manufacturers CEO outlines the state of manufacturing

“The state of manufacturing in America is resilient,” National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said last Thursday at his annual State of Manufacturing address, which he delivered at the Chandler-Gilbert Community College Williams Campus in Mesa.

Timmons’ speech touched on several key issues concerning the manufacturing industry, including the need to inspire the workforce of today and tomorrow as well as enacting sound public policy.

Each of the past nine months manufacturers across the country have had more than 800,000 open jobs, and manufacturers’ need to fill critical positions has only grown more acute according to Timmons. But, he said, manufacturers are not just looking for new employees.

“Manufacturers are saying more than ‘Help Wanted,’” he said. “We’re saying, ‘Creators Wanted.’”

In this search for creators, the National Association of Manufacturers has begun an ambitious mission to tackle the current workforce crisis through its Creators Wanted campaign. 

In the next few years, the campaign aims to reduce the skills gap by 600,000, increase the number of students enrolling in technical and vocational schools or reskilling programs by 25% and increase the positive perception of the industry among parents to 50% from 27%.

How do you protect and strengthen the workforce of a $2.6 trillion dollar industry? Timmons stressed the importance of enacting smart policy in areas like energy and taxation.

Timmons cited last year’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which he called “the biggest deal for tour infrastructure since the Eisenhower presidency.” 

Timmons also spoke about the importance of passing immigration reforms that allow the U.S. to continue to bring in talent to meet the country’s economic needs and avoid losing talent to other countries.

With more than 11,000 job openings in Arizona’s manufacturing industry in the first 45 days of 2022, workforce development will be a major factor driving the state’s manufacturing growth. 

Manufacturing has reached record levels of growth as new companies relocate to Arizona, while existing companies expand and hire additional workers. Between 2016 and 2020, Arizona ranked No. 2 in the nation for the rate of manufacturing job growth (EMSI). 

Timmons also cited the importance of pro-growth tax policy to manufacturers.

“Pivot Manufacturing in Phoenix is a great example. CEO Steve Macias says that the business was stagnating in 2017, but after tax reform, everything changed,” Timmons said. “The company was able to invest in advanced manufacturing equipment, which meant they could recruit a math- and tech-focused workforce, establish a new apprenticeship and mentorship model and set themselves on a strong growth trajectory.”

Timmons also discussed the importance of the American system of government and the country’s values that allow manufacturing to thrive. 

“Manufacturers believe in—and the NAM works to advance—four core values that have made America exceptional and that keep our industry strong: Free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity,” he said. “Underpinning those values, the foundation of it all, is our constitutional republic, our democratic system.”

NAM leadership, members and prominent guests are meeting this week in Scottsdale for the organization’s spring board meeting.

Diego Píña

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