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Has ‘Manufacturing’ Become a ‘Dirty Word’?

Kennametal CEO: Manufacturing needs a rebranding.
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Carlos Cardoso, president and CEO of cutting tools manufacturer Kennametal, Latrobe, PA, says that manufacturing needs a rebranding.

In a Manufacturing Engineering Viewpoints column, he challenges the industry to redefine what manufacturing is. “If we know ‘manufacturing’ is a dirty word to the majority of Americans, why not consider a new name that defines today’s reality? A better label is industrial technology,” he says. “Positioned as the ‘new IT,’ industrial technology is digitally-driven, smart production. It is the future of America, ripe with opportunities for a new generation digital-savvy talent.”

In the column, Cardoso cited data from a survey Kennametal conducted in 2011 that found just 11 percent of people in the U.S. believe the manufacturing industry is growing, and more than two-thirds think the problem is a lack of jobs rather than lack of skilled talent.

And he reported that more than 70 percent of Americans in the survey said that they wouldn’t recommend manufacturing as a career for their children.

Cardoso called on the industry to partner with high schools, career centers, technical institutions and community colleges to match young people with training and education they need to work in manufacturing.

(In the latest issue of MDM Premium, read about how distributors are partnering with colleges and universities to attract new talent into the industry. Not a subscriber? Subscribe now.)

Cardoso appears to be doing more than just talking about taking action. He is chairman of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) and is on the board of the National Association of Manufacturers and its Workforce Task Force. He also sits on the U.S. Manufacturing Council, where he leads the Subcommittee on Workforce Development and Manufacturing Perceptions.

In 2012, Cardoso founded Kennametal’s Young Engineers Program, offering advanced manufacturing curriculum and career practicum for high school students.

Kennametal outlined Cardoso’s column in a news release. The Manufacturing Engineering column can be read in full here

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