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Manufacturers group kicks off campaign to close the industry's skills gap
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) unveiled a new campaign to close the growing skills gap in the manufacturing industry, the group first told The Hill.
NAM and The Manufacturing Institute, which is its workforce and education partner, launched the "Creators Wanted" campaign in order to showcase modern manufacturing.
The goal of the campaign is to reduce the U.S. skills gap by 600,000 and expand the number of students enrolled in technical and vocational schools or re-skilling programs by 25 percent by 2025.
NAM has over $12 million in initial sponsorships from manufacturing companies such as Honda, Toyota, Microsoft, Stanley Black & Decker, Boeing, Walmart, Merck, Salesforce, Volvo, Nestle, Exxon, Caterpillar, and Lockheed Martin, among others.
NAM will officially kick off the campaign on Wednesday to mark the 125th anniversary of the group. It will also award Ivanka Trump, the president's elder daughter and a White House adviser, the inaugural Alexander Hamilton Award for supporting manufacturing.
"Manufacturing is not just crucial to Michigan's economy, it's our way of life. A big congratulations to the National Association of Manufacturers on this milestone anniversary. NAM's work to strengthen the manufacturing economy and close the skills gap makes them an essential partner and resource in my work to make manufacturing a top priority in Congress," Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), told The Hill.
The group also wants to increase the positive perception of the industry among parents to 50 percent as the positive perception rating among the demographic is currently at 27 percent.
"Parents have an outdated view of the industry ... they kind of see their grandfathers' manufacturing at play," the campaign's manager Chrys Kefalas told The Hill.
NAM is focusing on veterans, women, youth, and diversity and inclusion to expand the workforce. It is kicking off the "Creators Wanted" tour in April, when the group is driving a 53-foot trailer to at least 20 states over the year and will set up next to big events like the Republican and Democratic conventions, sporting events and state fairs.
The tour will focus on people ages 16 to 35 to allow them to get a hands-on glimpse at manufacturing.
The tour will start in Pennsylvania and will focus on a number of states where manufacturing is a dominant industry like North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas, as well as political battleground states.
"The campaign represents a unified workforce strategy, led by NAM and our Manufacturing Institute, to really accomplish some big objectives," Kefalas said.
The campaign also includes a digital storytelling push and a Making America Festival in Cincinnati in September to recruit new talent and to showcase manufacturing.