Volusia Manufacturers Association – Believe it: Manufacturing Jobs Do Exist Locally!
Released on: August 09, 2011, 2:54 pm
Industry: Small Business
The Volusia Manufacturers Association's President/CEO, Jayne Fifer, discusses the current pulse of manufacturing in Central Florida and the United States. This article was also presented as a guest commentary post in the Volusia Flagler Business Report, July 25, 2011.
The imbalance between the skills manufacturers need and the job seekers continues to grow. Newspapers report the skills gap shortage all over the country. Jobs go unfilled for months. A Georgetown University professor, Harry Holz, recently reported to Congress on manufacturing's skilled worker shortage. “The ratio of job vacancies to new hires in manufacturing is higher than we find in any other major industry group, suggesting that employers are having some difficulty filling their newly created jobs,” Holtz told the hearing. “On its own, our system of higher education will not produce enough skills needed by American workers to prosper. Our education and work force systems largely operate in isolation from one another,” he added. “I submit that it is not an education and work force system problem. It is a public relations problem.”
Earlier this month, it happened again. While waiting for some copies to be made, the woman standing next to me reading my flier about a Volusia Manufacturers Association event asked what VMA was. Of course, I was only too happy to fill her in. She was surprised because she didn't know there were any manufacturers here in Daytona Beach area.
Then the very next day, I was talking with my neighbor, who has a 16-year-old son, and she was asking how my business was going. I told her it was going great, manufacturers are hiring and growing and poised to lead us out of this recession. In fact, I told her, many could not find the skilled workers, particularly engineers. Her reply, “That is surprising, I didn't think there were many manufacturers left in America. I thought they were all in China.” Unfortunately, this happens quite a bit.
People just do not know that manufacturing is alive and thriving. What they hear is all the jobs moved overseas. What they see is all the commodity products that say “made in China.” They don't know about the research and development that happens in America. Or the intricate products that are made here. This is what they do not know about US manufacturing. If manufacturing were a separate economy, it would be the eighth largest economy in the world. The United States is the largest manufacturing economy, producing 21 percent of global manufactured products — or one in every five dollars. China is second at 13 percent. In our state (Florida), manufacturing is a key economic driver. Florida is the 13th largest manufacturing state. We are one of three net exporting states due in large part to manufacturers. There are over 15,000 Florida manufacturers employing over 350,000 highly skilled workers who on average earn 125 percent of state's average wage. The manufacturing sector is responsible for about 5 percent of the gross state product. In Volusia County, the manufacturing sector represents over 5 percent of our market. The average wage is $42,441 compared to the total average of $35,936. There are about 400 manufacturers.
Volusia manufacturers export to every continent in the world except Antarctica. Our manufacturers are major players in highly visible events. For example, Teledyne Oil and Gas (formerly Ocean Design) in Daytona Beach helped close the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico. Hudson Technologies in Ormond Beach makes products sent into space. Products made at the Sparton Electronics plant in DeLeon Springs help find black boxes when flights go down in the oceans. Thompson Pump in Port Orange is helping to open the Panama Canal that will bring a tremendous amount of trade opportunities to Florida. A large percentage of our manufacturers have less than 15 employees. It is small business that provides the steadiest economic development. Manufacturing jobs require skills in technology, engineering, math, critical thinking, creativity, ingenuity. We will need more and more people with those skills. Yes, some jobs did go overseas, but they are coming back, as the cost of quality and the logistics costs keep increasing. Our schools offer many manufacturing education and training programs. Call Daytona State College, the University of Central Florida's Daytona Beach campus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Bethune-Cookman University and ask if they have manufacturing education programs and you will find that they do. The problem at the University is that the classes are not full, because people don't think there are opportunities in manufacturing. They are wrong because there are. Tell your 16-year-old, manufacturing is here and it is here to stay.
The above commentary was provided to the Volusia Flagler Business Report by Jayne Fifer, current CEO/President of the Volusia Manufacturers Association. The Volusia Manufacturers Association (VMA) is the longest-serving manufacturing trade association established by Volusia and Flagler County Manufacturers. The Volusia Manufacturers Association is dedicated to keeping its members informed on current state legislation that impacts their businesses and providing opportunities for businesses to connect. For more information about the Volusia Manufacturers Association, please contact Volusia Manufacturers Association or Jayne Fifer at 386.673.0505.
About Volusia Manufacturers Association:
The Volusia Manufacturers Association was founded in 1980 in Volusia County, Florida by manufacturers for manufacturers. Volusia Manufacturers Association provides information, education and networking opportunities to help manufacturers grow and succeed. VMA are made up of companies that range in size from one employee to over 500. If you are interested in joining the Volusia Manufacturers Association, please visit http://www.vmaonline.com.
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