October 13, 2015
Is there a chance for Delaware to increase its share of the manufacturing industry?
Senator Chris Coons believes so.
In fact, he and Senator Kelly Ayotte introduced the Manufacturing Skills Act this year hoping to modernize the way states and cities run their job training programs. The hope is to provide those looking for employment with the skills they’ll need for today’s manufacturing jobs.
According to an article written by Sen. Coons, ‘Manufacturing can be transformed in Delaware’, on Oct. 3, 2015, the skill sets necessary for the manufacturing jobs of today require a higher level of math and engineering than those needed 20 years ago. Many of these manufacturing jobs require two-year college degrees or more. The ability to work in a team environment and higher levels of critical thinking are also required.
While there is a skills gap that has hindered the growth of manufacturers and the economy, ‘Pathways to Prosperity’, a program spearheaded by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, has helped to train Delaware students. This program has united local high schools, Delaware Tech and local manufacturing companies in a common goal; that of giving Delaware youth the skill sets they’ll need for a career in the manufacturing industry.
Further Good News for Delaware is that 21st century manufacturing jobs pay more than they did in the 20th century. Delaware’s average salary for a manufacturing position is $79,774, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Delaware Manufacturing contributed $4.55 billion to our economy in 2014.
In an article titled, ‘Where will Delaware jobs be coming from?’, posted last month, Richard Heffron, President of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, stated:
“We’re also seeing a renewed focus on manufacturing, an industry that was once the backbone of Delaware’s economy. Today’s manufacturers are looking for employees who are problem-solvers with leadership skills, computer and technical abilities. In response, the Delaware Manufacturing Association, DelTech, the Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership, in collaboration with state government, have developed a curriculum and launched a pilot program providing high school students with the opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma, a certificate in advance manufacturing and credits toward higher education courses.”
While many of our perceptions of the manufacturing industry are stuck in the past, Sen. Coons says,
“Today’s manufacturing jobs pay, on average, more in wages and benefits than any other industry, they contribute more to local economies, and they are critical to our nation’s capacity to innovate and grow.”
Delaware will have to adapt to the current environment of the manufacturing industry in order to attract more manufacturing jobs, which currently account for 25,000 jobs or 7.34% of Delaware’s workforce. In the last five years, manufacturers have created more than 800,000 jobs.
This past July, The News Journal reported that 100 new manufacturing jobs were to be added near New Castle, thanks to the State’s Council of Development Finance approval of $436,000 in incentives to attract Techmer PM, a Tennessee-based manufacturer, to New Castle. Also, a Delaware-based company behind the Mishimoto automotive brand will be opening a new manufacturing facility.
Manufacturers cite workforce talent as a deciding factor of their site selection and Delaware has been able to entice several of these businesses in recent years. Uzin Utz, an industrial grade flooring company and AB Packaging are two such manufacturers.
Gov. Markell stated in an Op Ed article release Oct. 8, 2015;
“The manufacturing industry, and the hardworking men and women who work in it, have always proven resilient. Their history is one of always adapting to change, and of emerging stronger than before. As manufacturing enters a new phase, it’s clear Delawareans are up to the challenge of building an industry that gives our citizens good job opportunities for years to come.”
So I guess the short answer is YES, it’s a safe bet that Delaware will see manufacturing growth this year and, hopefully, for years to come.
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