American Manufacturing, STEM, and The Boy Scouts

If you’re a regular reader of EXAIR blogs, you no doubt know that the International Manufacturing Technology Show is in full swing. Between exhibitors and visitors, the cumulative population of Chicago’s McCormick Place is expected to approach 90,000 people this week. That sounds like an impressive number of folks are taking a keen interest in manufacturing, but we’re being led to believe that there’s room – and need – for improvement here in the American manufacturing community. Consider:

*There are an estimated 600,000 unfilled manufacturing positions across the country right now. That’s a sobering number, especially in light of the current unemployment figures.

*It’s predicted that much of the core workforce in American manufacturing will be reaching retirement age during the next 10 years, and the recent historical data hints at a looming manpower crisis. Keep in mind, that’s on top of the current deficit of 600,000 workers.

I know that statistics can be made to say whatever you want them to say, but the right ones (you’ll have to trust me on this) show that American manufacturing created much of the wealth, and much of the size of the middle class, in the 20th Century. Whether you blame NAFTA, China, Wall Street, or any/all of the above (or something else entirely) for the recent decline, there are no shortage of proponents for a resurgence in American manufacturing in the 21st Century.

It’s curious that an organization that stresses the importance of doing things outdoors would be one of those proponents, but the Boy Scouts of America (maybe you’ve heard I like Scouting) is involved. The relatively new STEM/NOVA Program is geared towards advancing, and rewarding, participation in skill-building exercises to prepare today’s youth for tomorrow’s careers.

It’s just another reason I feel privileged to be a part of such a fine organization as the Boy Scouts.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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