Path Home Shows 2015 Show Archive October 2015 Show 1540 Dave Rowland - Improving the Bottom Line

Dave Rowland - Improving the Bottom Line

STEM training allows individuals to seek lucrative careers in manufacturing.
Dave Rowland - Improving the Bottom Line

Dave Rowland - Improving the Bottom Line

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Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance


Show Details

Show 1540: Dave Rowland - Improving the Bottom Line
Air Date: October 4, 2015



Rob McClendon: Well, manufacturing accounts for one in six private sector jobs in this country and makes up about 10 percent of Oklahoma’s gross state product, employing people all across Oklahoma. Joining me now in studio is David Rowland, the president and CEO of Oklahoma’s Manufacturing Alliance.

Rob McClendon: Well, let’s start off with just the state of manufacturing here in the state.

David Rowland: Well, thank you, Rob. Yeah, manufacturing in the state is a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest with you. There’s about 140,000 people employed in the state, serving four main sectors. And the largest sector is energy – gas and oil primarily. And right now I think everyone knows the ploy to that. The oilfields are down, and the gas side is doing a little better, but still off, so anyone that’s solely manufacturing for those sectors is having a pretty challenging time right now.

Rob: And while energy may well be a cyclical industry, there are other sectors of our economy that are doing quite well.

Rowland: Absolutely. You know, the airlines are really enjoying, you know, some record profits and so forth. And so consequently one of our major industries here in the state is aerospace, and the aerospace industry’s doing great. Many manufacturers have seen maybe a 10 or 15 percent uptick over last year in their business and are out actually trying to hire, you know, qualified individuals. So that’s a real exciting piece of what’s going on right now. And some of the stable areas are infrastructure, transportation or support here in the state.

Rob: Now, we just celebrated National Manufacturing Week and National Manufacturing Day. What are some of the goals here in the state coming out of that?

Rowland: Well, obviously Manufacturing Day is to highlight what a career in manufacturing can do for someone and make parents, students and educators more aware of that as a career. So the goal is to raise awareness of what manufacturing does. For instance, most people don’t know that manufacturing sector jobs pay 20 percent more than other sectors on average. For instance, a base salary in manufacturing is $60,000. And in addition to that, most manufacturers pay benefits so that’s a different piece of information than we probably saw 15, 20 years ago throughout the United States. So the idea is to make people aware that it’s no longer a dark, dirty type of industry where people come home hurt, etc. No, it’s a very modern, it’s a very exciting advanced technology type of career. People are running robots. They’re running CNC machines. They’re basically involved in laboratory and art research and development. And it’s not all on the shop floor. People have to remember that there’s jobs in accounting, there’s jobs in purchasing, there’s jobs in marketing, those types of things that support manufacturers. So we’re trying to make sure that people understand that manufacturing is a career that they should be, that they can be proud of and that they can make a very good living with and support, you know, a family and their goals.

Rob: How important is the skills training that the CareerTech centers around the state provide?

Rowland: Oh, we couldn’t, we couldn’t, manufacturing couldn’t do it without it. Manufacturing really depends on a lot of STEM training from that aspect and a lot of certifications – welders, machinists, etc., in there. And the CareerTech is set up so well to do that. And we have the same goals – we both work as an outreach. One of the things I think is really nice is our organization deals specifically with manufacturers, and any time we see an educational or a training need, the first place we come back to is a CareerTech from that. We bring them in, get them involved, and hopefully it’s as much as a one-stop shop as we can when we bring CareerTech in.

Rob: Now, I know you’re about to celebrate your one-year anniversary as the president and CEO of the Manufacturing Alliance. What do you see the future being like in the industry and for your group?

Rowland: Well, the industry, I think it’s going to be a situation where manufacturing has to basically adopt new technologies and innovation as we’ve talked about. And it’s gonna be a tough go for about the next five or 10 years on workforce development as we’ve talked about. So for the industry, manufacturers are gonna have to stay involved with the schools, the parents, in educating people about manufacturing in order to build those careers and get people interested and back into manufacturing. But also, the technology piece, we’ve talked about that. We’re gonna have to make sure that we’re on the front-end of that, we’re using technology effective and that we’re able to apply it not only to today’s world but get our manufacturers looking at five years of strategic planning type of goals from that. If we’re not planning for the next five years with our manufacturing base, we’re gonna be left behind.

Rob: So how important is just the simple but fundamental thing of changing the mindset about manufacturing?

Rowland: Well, it’s a simple thing to talk about, and it’s a huge need. It’s a hard thing to do from there. A recent survey by National Association of Manufacturers came back and said that people wanted manufacturing as their No. 1 economic driver in their communities. However, when you ask that same question, “Would you want your child or your brother or sister to work in manufacturing?” it ranked fifth or sixth depending on which survey. So there’s a big gap when you look at this. So there’s a lot to be done when you look at those types of numbers and with the shortage of employees that are projected in the next 10 years, some projections are saying nationally that with the retirement of the baby boomers and so forth, manufacturing will be short almost two and half million jobs. We won’t have qualified people to meet those needs. Now, looking at Oklahoma, you can translate that down, and that’s somewhere in the range of 25 to 30,000 jobs that will go unfilled. And when you think about a $60,000-plus base job plus benefits, you know, that’s a great career opportunity for a lot of people. So we’ve got to get the message out. We’ve got to be able to bring people in and understand what manufacturing careers can do, etc.

Rob: All right. Well, Dave, I certainly appreciate you coming by.

Rowland: Well, thank you.

Rob: Now, Dave Rowland is the president and CEO of Oklahoma’s Manufacturing Alliance.