Good News at FMA Annual Conferences

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Two spirited keynote speeches that offered bullish perspectives on the future of U.S. manufacturing—with specific caveats—highlighted The FABRICATOR®’s Leadership Summit, 6th Annual Metal Matters, and FMA’s 15th Annual Toll Processing Conference, held in early March in Orlando.

Emily DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute and the new National Center for the American Workforce, and Dan DiMicco, chairman, president, and CEO of Nucor Corporation, the leading U.S. steel producer and the world’s largest recycler, each told the gathering of more than 200 executives at the premiere conferences for the processing and fabricating industry that the manufacturing sector can again be a global leader.

DeRocco outlined how even in today’s tough economic climate, U.S. manufacturing represents the world’s eighth largest economy, pays premium compensation when compared to non-manufacturing jobs, offers the strongest multiplier effect, and outpaces global rivals in research and development. However, she noted a recent survey revealed 32 percent of companies reported “moderate to serious skills shortages in the hiring pool” and that “technological advances in modern manufacturing require more advanced skill sets. “Major deficits in our education system hamper U.S. competitiveness on the world stage,” she said. “Our global competitors continue to surpass our education system in producing a high-volume, high-quality technical workforce.”

DiMicco painted a bleaker picture of the sector’s current status, citing the large number of manufacturing jobs lost since its high point in 1998 and reporting the current level is the lowest since 1941. “How did we get here?,” he asked. “A massive failure of trade policies. And, we bought into a failed economic model that a service-based economy could replace a manufacturing-based economy.” He asserted manufacturing can lead the way to create more jobs and real wealth via several ways. One is to achieve energy independence by “developing all domestic energy resources—traditional and renewable. This will create jobs by building an energy infrastructure and driving R&D in the energy sector.”

The three-day events were produced by The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA) and The Tube & Pipe Association, International (TPA).

The 2012 summit and conference will take place Feb. 29 through March 2 at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Learn more by calling (888) 394-4362 or going to [www.fmanet.org/calendar].