N.H. manufacturers will benefit by working together

We can’t afford to fall behind in worker training just as opportunity’s doors open with fresh air for our economy

There is good reason to be optimistic about the future of our economy, with clear signs pointing to steady growth. But we must be careful not to squander this post-recession opportunity. Now is the time to work with our higher-education institutions to help assure that they’re offering the education and training our employees – of today and tomorrow – need.

You don’t see it, but New Hampshire’s high-tech manufacturers are working together to ensure group success, even as we compete individually on a global network.

Look at what’s happening: Exports from New Hampshire are up 17 percent in 2013. Analysts believe that number will rise steadily as New Hampshire-made products are sold around the world. That rise in demand will certainly require well-trained employees.

What types of jobs do they need to prepare for? Step inside Parker Hannifin, which employs people from southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, and you will see signs of an aerospace market that’s evolved over the past 30 years.

At Parker Hannifin, we are running 24/7 manufacturing centers that require highly skilled technicians who understand machining, programming and inspection techniques, and who possess the overall troubleshooting skills to completely manage a manufacturing cells’ performance.

The skill of our assembly and test personnel has also changed significantly. In this industry, the product is learning to think for itself. That level of technology requires a new way of manufacturing, and it requires a new type of employee. Technicians at these facilities must have software, hardware and mechanical skills to meet today’s manufacturing expectations.

Over at Degree Controls in Milford, business is focused on the movement and measurement of airflow for electronics cooling. To achieve this, the company must have personnel who can design and manufacture products that can focus the airflow to directly affect the cooling of these hot components in electronic equipment.

Although Degree Controls designs and assembles all of its products, we do not directly manufacture the mechanical parts in house; 75 percent of our mechanical purchases are done with suppliers located within 30 miles of our facility. These suppliers need employees who understand machining, programming, electromechanical requirements, inspection, quality control techniques and possess the overall troubleshooting skills to completely manage a manufacturing cells’ performance.

We can’t afford to fall behind in worker training just as opportunity’s doors open with fresh air for our economy.

That is why companies like ours have created new partnerships with institutions like Manchester Community College, to help educators create advanced manufacturing programs that will produce the workforce needed in today's economy right now.

More partnerships are needed. Many other sectors of the economy are seeing explosive growth and have immediate needs. But education systems are struggling to keep up with the changing demands of technology in the workplace.

That’s why it is so critical for the public and private sectors to work together. We recently finished developing a new advanced manufacturing program at Manchester Community College which will create a pipeline of qualified graduates, who can get into the classroom and in less than a year, be ready for that new job.

The needs of our economy will continue to change, and so will the demands of our education system. We urge the business community to get active in shaping the new workforce now before the opportunity slips past us.

Opportunities exist to shape curriculum, provide internship sites for real-world experience, and mentor students as they explore career paths. A call to your local community college can get you started. We will all benefit if we work together.

Wayne MacLeay is director of manufacturing at Milford-based Degree Controls Inc. Rick Mossey is new product development manager at Parker Hannifin’s Massachusetts facilities.

Categories: Opinion