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Letters to the Editor

Manufacturing – from an industry veteran

Consider this – Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute recently reported that, over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled. They also predicted that nearly 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled. Why? The manufacturing skills gap, which is linked to the lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills among workers – and fueled by a decline of technical education programs in high schools as well as a lack of interest in the manufacturing industry by today’s youth.

As someone who has committed the majority of my career (nearly 40 years) to the manufacturing and supply chain competencies, I firmly believe that manufacturing – specifically in the U.S. – is at a crossroads.

It’s easy to point to the stereotypes of manufacturing sweatshops portrayed by Hollywood as generating a sense of perceived negativity that has not been overcome by the manufacturing industry. But, it’s more than that. Stories have been passed through families regarding less-than-desirable conditions of factory work ranging from long hours to repetitive, mindless contributions.

This is not the manufacturing I know. I’d say most manufacturing jobs today are centered on employee empowerment, engagement and innovation.

At Allegion, team members are trusted to make decisions and lead value creation for customers. The environment, pay and benefits happen to be some of the most competitive in the market, and the opportunities to grow professionally in our plants are enormous. We are developing skilled trade apprenticeship programs and offering tuition reimbursement opportunities, as well as transitioning some part-time and temporary employees to full-time positions. We are actively working with community and civic leaders to invest in the skills, education and training requirements necessary to support the next generation of manufacturing workers.

I believe there can be a bright future for manufacturing, as our industry continues to see the introduction of new technologies. Tools and investments are essential elements of providing customers with shorter delivery cycle times and higher quality. It is imperative to have employees who have the desire, knowledge, expertise and capability to run, manage and maintain such investments.

That’s why Allegion is also proactively reaching out to inspire the next generation of manufacturing employees. On Oct. 26, we will hold “Manufacturing Day” at our LCN Operations as a part of Princeton’s annual Discover Manufacturing Career Expo event and in partnership with the National Association of Manufacturers. Our Manufacturing Day is designed to give students, educators and community leaders the opportunity to engage with our skilled and talented workforce. Visitors can see manufacturing up close and talk to employees who hold a variety of roles – from quality to materials, engineers to assembly workers and skilled tradesman to toolmakers.

Informing and inspiring the next generation of manufacturers will require a good deal of work within our communities – but it’s a worthy cause. Allegion is committed to combating the skills gap. We will continue investing in our manufacturing processes and equipment, our people and the communities in which we work to further advance the manufacturing competency.

Chris Muhlenkamp, Allegion Senior Vice President of Global Operations and Integrated Supply Chain

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