Friday, August 18, 2006


This Week In Blog: August 14-18

Here's what we've been reading this week in the manufacturing blogosphere: GM Drives Toward Cost Goals With New Supply Techniques. Riffing off this Reuters interview with GM's procurement chief, Supply Excellence looks at General Motors's cost-cutting crusade.

The automaker has an ambitious goal to reduce costs by 2% before the end of 2006, and is looking to do that through it supply chain even as the costs of energy and raw materials continue to climb. Their two major methods? Using cheaper foreign suppliers (with an eye towards buying more from Mexico) and increased standardization of parts across car models (a great illustration: GM makes twenty-six different types of seat frames while Toyota makes two). Clamoring for Workers. The NAM has been shaking the federal government tree, trying to get some manufacturing education initiatives to fall out (and they've had some success). Here, the blog highlights a must-read article in the LA Times, "Factory Shift: Manufacturers Struggle to Fill Highly Paid Jobs".

In addition to looking at statistics about the decline of manufacturing and the number of high-skilled jobs left unfilled, the article tells the story of 21-year-old Daniel McGee. A graduate from a private high school, Mr. McGee opted out of going to college after high school in favor of technical college and a two-year metalworking apprenticeship, which is paid at $14 an hour and includes health benefits. When he's done, Mr. McGee will make $58,240 a year.

This article should be sent to every high school guidance counselor in the country: it's the antidote to the "dirty, dangerous, and dull" stigma attached to manufacturing jobs. We hope there will be more stories like it in the mainstream media soon.

Speaking of metalworking, over at The Fabricator's blog, Stephanie Vaughan talks to pipe welder Tracy Rumph, who is heading to the Middle East to work for a private contractor. Vaughan looks into the types of jobs available with Middle East contractors by browsing their websites.

We'd like to add that if you want to learn about what it's like to be one of these workers, you should listen to the radio documentary "I'm From The Private Sector and I'm Here To Help", a 2004 story from WBEZ-Chicago's This American Life. It's an excellent piece of radio, describing the lives of power plant workers and security personnel. If you don't have an hour to listen, you can also download a transcript (PDF document) by clicking here.

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