Job creation cuts unemployment rate

Capital News Service
LANSING — The unemployment rate in Michigan had a significant drop of 1.6 percent from September 2014 to September 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The creation of additional jobs cut Michigan’s unemployment rate to 5 percent. That is less than the national average and 9.9 points below the state’s unemployment peak during the Recession. One of the sectors leading the charge in job creation is manufacturing. Manufacturing took a hard hit during the Recession but it has its highest number of jobs since 2009, said Michelle Wein, a labor analyst for West Michigan at the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives in the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Federal grant helps pay for export growth

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan received the second-largest amount of federal funding through the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program to help small-to-medium sized businesses increase exporting by promoting activities like trade shows and missions. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) will use its $2.1 million grant to help businesses focus on exporting by incorporating a strategic plan and activities like trade shows and website language translation. Chuck Hadden, president of the Michigan Manufacturers Association, said of exporting, “We cannot do a lot besides encourage and train our members, most of which happens at the federal level.”

He said machine-manufacturing companies represent 71 out of 132 companies in the program. The federal grant is $600,000 more than last year’s.

3D printers promote prototypes, pose concerns

Capital News Service
LANSING — If you have a hearing disability, hundreds of hearing aids in the market that compete for your attention, but would you prefer one personalized for your ear? A technology growing in popularity named 3D printing could help make that happen. The technology of 3D printing — a computer program that lets machines make prototype models — has become part of the most advanced technology used in the manufacturing industry, said Chuck Hadden, president of Michigan Manufacturers Association. With that technology, Hadden said that his members can prototype a product, bring it to clients, and remodify it after getting feedback from them. Archie Swanner, rapid prototyping department advisor at Roush Enterprises Inc. in Farmington, said his department uses a 3D printer to create models for design verification for interiors of vehicles.

New network links in-state businesses

Capital News Service
LANSING –A new business-to-business networking program called Pure Michigan Business Connect is linking in-state companies to help them grow. Participants can find resources to expand their supply chain, find business opportunities, access a business-to-business database and receive help such as legal, accounting and other services at little to no cost, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC). The pilot program works to attract procurement leads from both in and outside of Michigan and uses partner organizations to match these needs with potential Michigan suppliers. Chuck Hadden, president of the Michigan Manufacturers Association, said the association is providing its members’ information for the program’s database.

Shortage of skilled manufacturing workers up for debate

Capital News Service
LANSING — Despite growing concern over a skilled labor shortage in Michigan’s manufacturing industry, a Kalamazoo-based research company suggests employment data doesn’t support the hyped fears. Many manufacturers in the state have expressed difficulties in finding skilled laborers to fit their needs and claim there is a talent shortage, especially in middle-skill positions such as engineers, welders, machinists and technicians. Groups such as the Michigan Manufacturers Association are prioritizing initiatives with manufacturers, community colleges and career service agencies to address the shortage, association director of human resource policy Delaney McKinley said. But according to George Erickeck, a senior regional analyst at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, that perception isn’t necessarily in line with publically available workforce data. In an attempt to pinpoint the root of Michigan’s supposed skilled labor shortage, the institute used U.S. Census data to compile information about employment statistics for machinists in seven Midwest states, Erickeck said.

Community colleges, manufacturers team up to fill middle-skill jobs

Capital News Service
LANSING– With the state’s manufacturing industry facing a talent crisis, the Michigan Manufacturers Association and the Michigan Community College Association are collaborating to meet the demand for middle-skill workers. As technology advances, a lot of jobs require people with the right skills, said Delaney McKinley, director of human resource policy for the Manufacturers Association. And the shortage could get worse as the workforce ages and skilled workers retire, according to the association. About 20 percent of Michigan’s manufacturing workforce is older than age 55, according to the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan in Detroit. Middle skill jobs, as defined by McKinley, require a level of skills somewhere between those that “need people who are engineers or highly educated” and those that “don’t require training necessarily.”
Industry is looking for people to fill jobs such as production technicians, computer numerical control machinists and welders, McKinley said.

Manufacturing needs workers but not enough apply

Capital News Service
LANSING – A shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing has become more acute with the recent economic recovery, industry experts say. “The shortage is a big problem for our members,” said Delaney Newberry, director of human resource policy for the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “They do have some positions open as the old workers began to retire, and they are worried about filling the positions.”
Newberry said the skilled employee that manufacturers want falls into a wide range of positions, from basic workers to technicians and engineers. For example, among manufacturers with shortage are Top Craft Tool Inc. and Lunar Industries in Clinton Township; KEO Cutters, Super Steel Treating Co. and Schlitter Tool in Warren; and Midwest Mold Services Inc. in Roseville, according to the association.