As the US Presidential campaign heats up and the candidates hit the debate stage in full force, it seems that the future of manufacturing and energy is high up on the agenda. While the manufacturing industry is still rebounding from years of recession, there is a renewed focus on how those involved in the management of energy resources and re-building of America will become a critical factor in the coming administration.
While President Obama has consistently pushed for the enhancement of manufacturing and clean energy development, stating that “We can’t have an energy strategy for the last century that traps us in the past. We need an energy strategy for the future – an all-of-the-above strategy for the 21st century that develops every source of American-made energy.” (March 2012)
His opponent Mitt Romney, has released a comprehensive energy plan that could potentially open up more avenues for manufacturers around the nation, including those previously ignored coal and oil manufacturers.
Says the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons in a recent article “Manufacturing continues to occupy center stage in the presidential campaign discussion” and “For U.S. manufacturers to be able to compete successfully in the world marketplace, they need access to a consistent supply of affordable energy. To achieve that, a true ‘all-of-the-above’ approach is necessary.”
The overall concern among many manufacturers is whether the next generation of workers will be available to manage the responsibilities of this difficult industry. There are fewer and fewer college grads willing to work in the manufacturing business because of the uncertainty of future jobs in this sector – stemming from massive layoffs of the earlier part of this decade. Manufacturing is also a career in which specific, specialized skills are needed to be proficient. This is in an era when many candidates have diversified their skills in order to be eligible for more jobs.
While the future of manufacturing still hangs in the balance, one thing is clear. The United States must find a solution to sustainable energy sources that will support the manufacturing infrastructure for future generations. We also must be willing to train and provide career growth opportunities in manufacturing to attract tomorrow’s talent. These are the people who will reshape and rebuild America.
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