Originally published in The Wewoka Times | In honor of National Manufacturing Day over 25 events will be held throughout the state in October to help celebrate the industry’s past,present and future in Oklahoma.
Scheduled events include the Oklahoma Conference on Manufacturing, on Tuesday, Sept. 30 and Wednesday, Oct. 1 at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center, as well as open house tours of facilities such as Pelco Products,Inc. in Edmond,OK October 2, 2014 8:30 am – 2:00 pm and NOV Enerflow October 3, 2014 from 9:00am – 12:00 pm.
Manufacturing is an integral part of Oklahoma’s economy, and it is steadily growing. According to the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM), Oklahoma manufacturers account for nearly 11 percent of the total output for the state, totaling $17.5 billion in 2012. Additionally,manufacturing directly employs 10 percent of state’s workforce.
Modern manufacturing is extremely technical,highly-paid, skilled work that includes automated machinery, robots, and 3-D printing technologies.
The industry employs critical and creative thinkers to solve important problems including engineers, accountants, managers, and other professionals.
“A lot of people have never been in a machine shop,” said Mike Pierce, assistant division chair.
“They think it’s a dirty, nasty place, and that’s no longer true."
The majority of these jobs are in modern facilities with advanced technology and automation tools, he adds.
The average salary for manufacturing workers in Oklahoma is over $60,000 which is, on average, $24,000 higher than other non-farm employers in the state of Oklahoma.
Ken Milliman, Manufacturing Technologies instructor for Oklahoma State University – Institute of Technology (OSUIT), said he gets calls every day from manufacturing companies that need qualified machinists and technicians. However, more students are needed to fill these positions. “One company hired 40 machinists last year. That’s just one company. And they want to hire 40 more,” he said.
Comparable to other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) jobs, there is a growing skills gap in manufacturing across the country. In an effort to help fill that gap, many career technology centers and community colleges in Oklahoma now offer programs that lead to industry certifications endorsed by NAM and Manufacturing Institute.
The “Dream It. Do It.” initiative, led by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, aims to help students, educators, and parents understand the great opportunities available in manufacturing and to inspire next-generation workers to pursue manufacturing careers.
Two areas in Oklahoma have adopted the “Dream It. Do it.” initiative in their communities. The Northeast region of Oklahoma and the Duncan area initiatives are taking off. Since January of 2014, a total of 96 events have been held in these areas for students, parents, educators and employers with a total of 3,183 participants. For more information about how your community can join the “Dream it. Do it.” initiative, please email Vikki Dearing at Vikki_Dearing@OKcommerce.gov
Find out more and explore the Manufacturing Day events in your area visit http://tinyurl.com/mfgdayok.