🛣️ESE Newsletter #10: Hit the Road, Jack!👨💼🦿
Reshoring American Manufacturing and the fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0.
Greetings and happy summer… don’t forget the sunscreen! ☀️🥵
I’ve been out of the office this week, on a meandering cruise through the Smokey Mountains with a cadre of fellow Miata aficionados, racing to the bottom (and then back up again.)
Another race to the bottom that’s in the news this week is Jack Welch’s reign as the CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001. He was extremely effective at gutting America’s manufacturing workforce.
Jack spearheaded the offshoring of manufacturing facilities and jobs abroad. This resulted in a “race to the bottom” as far as the American economy was concerned.
Jack got the nickname, Neutron Jack, after the neutron bomb that is devastating to human life but leaves buildings intact. While Welch did do an about-face on his own ‘shareholder value doctrine’ in 2011 calling it, “the dumbest idea in the world,” we are still dealing with the aftermath of his myopic leadership in 2022.
That was Industry’s leadership but Industry does not act alone. It’s Industry along with you, Education, that lead the way, each informing the other of what is needed. It takes time to build programs that meet the needs of Industry, just like it takes Industry time to develop the technology, facilities, and certifications necessary for today’s industrial revolution, aka Industry 4.0.
Investment in people, what Neutron Jack failed to do, is what manufacturing needs as automation frees humans from repetitive tasks. Machinists to Robot Programmers. Industrial Maintenance Technicians to Systems Integrators. From Programmers to Algorithm Engineers. Education. You.
To further discuss the changes that are evolving, I invited Mike Nager, all-around Industry 4.0 expert, educational consultant, and manufacturing sherpa, to dig deeper.
He was also generous enough to share a link for limited-time, free access to his publication, “The Smart Student’s Guide to Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0,” linked below.
Thanks, Mike! 🎉
Highlight From Our Region
We've all been hearing the term Industry 4.0 for many years at this point but, what does it really mean? If I asked 100 people to define Industry 4.0 for me, I would probably get close to 100 different answers.
With so many different interpretations of Industry 4.0, how can we possibly train for these skillsets when we can't even define them?
The difficulty is in the breadth of technologies that incorporate Industry 4.0. But what we can say with a high degree of certainty is this:
Everything that has come before in manufacturing, like Lean, 5S, JIT… will still have an important role in Industry 4.0.
The ability to analyze and visualize data will become increasingly important
Physical and mental jobs that for decades used people as machines will slowly be replaced with robotics or artificial intelligence
As a result, the new jobs will require a higher mastery of soft skills
Any skills involving data, robotics, or AI will be growing as well as the more established PLC, HMI, and Maintenance
Can you explain the lesser-known benefits to an economy investing in manufacturing?
Manufacturing is one of the few industries that directly creates wealth; other industries and secondary jobs result from that wealth creation.
As a society, manufacturing jobs also distribute a significant amount of the wealth to a larger number of workers than other industries. Many people and their families benefit from a manufacturing base. A $1B manufacturer, which is kind of the larger side, is much more significant in this regard than a $1B bank, which for that industry is quite small.
And with robotics taking strength and endurance out of the equation, the technology is enabling many people to participate that were previously shut-out, like those with a form of physical limitation.
What are the key skills and technologies schools should be focusing on to differentiate the US from China and other off-shoring countries? What are some roadmaps for various levels of education to follow?
We know, and the developing world knows, that the long game is not going to be in providing cheap human labor to the manufacturing operations.
That is yesterday’s story — when Western, and especially American, companies raced around the world to find low-cost labor. There are many reasons for this that are probably quite obvious to your readers.
The roadmap is simple; we have it defined with the leading skills certification body that for decades has been providing certification programs that work. That is NC3.
“As long as China is selling us the products we need, the location of manufacturing isn’t that critical for the economy.”
— Kenneth Green, American Enterprise Institute
Current supply chain issues have shown the fragility of off-shoring our manufacturing. What steps are being taken to address this, both by government and industry and what responsibility do educators have to help reshore and restore our jobs and prosperity?
With Covid and the hostile actions taken by various powerful foreign adversaries, the naivety of the above statement now seems obvious.
We had imagined a world where increased trade would automatically lead to benign and friendly relations between former hostile nations. This has turned out not to be true.
We also imagined ourselves at the top of the value pyramid, making the most money at the retail level, reselling product. But we lost ability in manufacturing know-how doing that — you learn by doing, not designing.
Elon Musk has a lot to say about the importance and difficulty of manufacturing versus design. Shortsighted and wrong federal policies, for decades across both parties, caused the hollowing out of the domestic industry (see the just-released book on Jack Welch, “The Man Who Broke Capitalism: How Jack Welch Gutted the Heartland and Crushed the Soul of Corporate America―and How to Undo His Legacy” by New York Times reporter, David Gelles) – it is going to take that level of competence, but in the opposite direction, over decades to get it back.
The Department of Defense has been shining a light on this for years and is investing in the Manufacturing USA Institutes as a result. People are starting to pay attention.
Readers can download a free copy of “The Smart Student’s Guide to Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0” with this link.
🔊 You can hear more from Mike on the Live on the Edge Podcast.
2022 PACTA Summer Leadership Conference July 26-28, 2022
Other keynotes include the Director of the Bureau of Career and Technical Education in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Dr. Lee Burket, and lawyer Andrew M. Goodman to discuss government relations and legislative law.
Accommodations are available at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel at the conference rate of $124 single or double. Reservations must be made by June 24, 2022.
PACTA is an approved provider for Act 48 professional development activities. Conference participants will be awarded up to ten hours of Act 48 credit.
NC3 Virtual Train-the-Trainer Events
Before school starts up again in the fall, take advantage of these virtual certification events to be able to provide industry-recognized certifications to your students.
📅 Festo Fundamentals of Electricity Training (3 Days) | Start Registration
August 8, 2022 | 10:00 AM EST | Day 1
August 10, 2022 | 10:00 AM EST | Day 2
August 11, 2022 | 10:00 AM EST | Day 3
📅 Festo Fundamentals of Robotics Training (2 Days) | Start Registration
August 15, 2022 | 9:00 AM EST | Day 1
August 17, 2022 | 9:00 AM EST | Day 2
📅 Festo Introduction to Mechatronics Training (6 Days) | Start Registration
August 15, 2022 | 9:00 AM EST | Day 1
August 17, 2022 | 9:00 AM EST | Day 2
August 18, 2022 | 9:00 AM EST | Day 3
August 22, 2022 | 9:00 AM EST | Day 4
August 24, 2022 | 9:00 AM EST | Day 5
August 25, 2022 | 9:00 AM EST | Day 6
Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (WORC) Funding Now Available
Don’t worry if you missed the webinar! I attended the WORC Pre-Application Q&A this past Tuesday so send me a message if you have any questions about these grants available from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Grants will range from $150,000 up to $1.5 million. Proposals are due July 8, 2022.
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced the availability of approximately $34.2 million in the fourth round of grant funding for the WORC Initiative, helping workers obtain new opportunities in rural communities.
More information can be found here.
Although the webinar this week wasn’t recorded, ARC has sponsored the creation of a technical assistance series to break down components of the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC.)
Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania
In order to curb the effects of the travesty that was spurred by Neutron Jack, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has made funds available through WEDnetPA to train and upskill the workforce to remain competitive.
The new WEDnetPA process now requires only one application, one training plan, and one contract. Training funds available up to $2,000 per eligible employee.
Don’t forget to re-apply your sunscreen and I’ll see you next month! 🧴⛱️